I have always been interested in staying productive, and since the birth of my son, it has become even more important to me. I want to keep my writing career progressing, but not at the expense of my quality mommy time.
I was excited when I saw Sage Cohen’s book The Productive Writer, and now that I have finished it, I want to share my reaction with you.
Cohen gets it. She is a successful poet, author, and freelance writer, and she is a mom. It is clear on every page that Cohen has felt the same pressures the rest of us have to juggle motherhood, career writing, and personal writing. She has also experienced the fears and creative ruts that sometimes get us writers into a funk that keeps us from writing our best.
Because of that firsthand knowledge, I felt as if I was reading exactly what I needed to hear. Sage Cohen includes a dose of optimism and spirit building inside her practical suggestions to help you control your chaos, schedule your time, and get your client and personal writing done.
I have noticed that productivity books tend to fall into two categories: books that outline some complicated scheme to force you into a productive lifestyle, and books that pretty much tell you that you need to create your own productive system using your goals as the drivers. Cohen’s book falls into the latter category. She doesn’t break ground, but she helps you coalesce your goals into action plans that work for you. One of the things she does well is make you believe that you can finally become the productive writer you want to be.
Set your goals
Cohen leads you through an exercise of writing down your goals and creating an action plan to achieve them. She provides free downloadable tools on her website to guide you through the process.
Create a writing environment
Cohen focuses several chapters on different elements of a writing environment. From creating a space to nurturing your ideas and compartmentalizing, the writing environment is as much mental as physical. Cohen shares her tricks to settle her mind in her different writing projects that would be useful for freelancers who juggle different types of assignments and moms who need to transition from day job to kiddo time to writing time.
One of the most important nuggets Cohen touches on is the importance of creating a productivity plan that works for you. Many writers, including Zen Habits founder Leo Babauta, suggest getting up early in the morning to get your writing done before the interruptions of the day interfere. And this is great advice, unless you are a nightowl who is in a fog until noon. Cohen suggests that you find your writing rhythms and work with them. I have found that nonfiction is my best product early in the day when I am logical and ordered, and fiction is best in the evenings when my mind can flow between reality and unreality a little easier.