Oct 8, 2023: Thoughts on Prolific Productivity

Pepper Boy / Food Good – Tbilisi, Georgia – 9pm

This is a super ironic post because, this weekend, I have not felt prolifically productive. I have been feeling rather down and scatterbrained. I managed to get most of the writing I do for other people done, but I’ve been feeling unmotivated to work on my own writing.

One of the issues has been feeling overwhelmed by how much there is to do. I was looking into creating a Patreon page last night, and saw the necessity of staying consistent once you go down that rabbit hole. Once you have people paying for subscriptions to your work, you have to stay on track with your posting schedule or else you risk losing subscribers that you worked so hard to get in the first place.

As hard as it is to get people to vote for you with their dollar, it is just as easy to lose them by not living up to the expectations you yourself set for them.

Maybe that’s plaguing my subconscious more than I have admitted in the past, just in the same way that committing to being a self-published author means reckoning with becoming a public figure in a way. Even if I never become famous (and this is not about that), having my works out on the internet for anyone to view and criticize means that my persona is effectively no longer anonymous. By working towards being a successful self-published author, I have signed the contract to give up the comforts and privileges of anonymity, of being a virtually unknown common, ordinary citizen. In some ways, I think the fears and anxieties surrounding that shift in identity which comes with just as many losses as gains contribute in some way to why I procrastinated for so long on this project.

Can you relate to this? Do you feel that your procrastination stems from deeper fears brought about by identity shifts underpinning the big change in your life?

When I’m in a funk like this, I like to read about famous authors’ writing habits. Maybe that’s weird, and possibly another form of procrastination (thinking about writing is not writing), but it helps to inspire me and nudge me back into the writing routine. I love reading about other authors’ writing schedules and productivity achievements. I love day-in-the-life posts.

Recently, I read that Danielle Steel writes for 20 to 22 hours a day. I don’t really believe that, but let’s say hypothetically that’s true. I personally don’t think that’s anything to aspire towards. I wouldn’t say that’s living. I think it’s admirable to get so many books out there and have a consistent writing schedule built on discipline, but there can still be too much of a good thing. I think 4-8 hours a day dedicated to writing and writing-adjacent activities would be plenty enough for me, anyways, with the odd 10, 000-word day thrown in every once in a while. Trying to do more than that is not really sustainable in the long run, personally.

For me, living life is my number one priority. I know that looks different for everybody. But sitting at a desk day in and day out, doing nothing but writing for years? I think it’s a romantic notion, but kind of sad in real life (although, you know, Steel is in her seventies now, so arguably she’s already done the best of her living). For me, I love writing and I want to publish consistently and get my stories out there, but I also want to learn and progress at a variety of other skills and interests, not just writing. I’m a scanner, not a diver.

I guess this is a good reminder that what works for one author does not have to work for another. There’s no need to negatively compare our own writing routines and habits to another’s, especially if that only serves to make us feel like there’s something wrong with us.

I just have to keep remembering that the self-publishing business is a marathon, not a sprint. I feel this pressure to have all the pieces come together so that potential readers see a complete author, an author who has got their box of chocolates together.

At the same time, I know I can’t just wait until that version of myself materializes. I just have to put myself out there, with some of the basic pieces strung together, and work consistently on building on that foundation. Or else, it’s all too easy to slip into never doing something that is your dream.

So, even on days like today where I don’t feel all that productive towards my self-publishing goals, I’ll just keep chipping away. Today, I wrote 300 words towards the horror story I was *supposed* to finish today. The story I was *supposed* to have written 10, 000 to 20, 000 words towards by today only has 4, 000 words penned. While that may be much less than I was aiming for, it’s still better than no words at all.

Motivation, to be sustainable, can’t be rooted in guilt; it has to be rooted in genuine excitement and stoke that we get to be doing what we love for a living. So, this was a rather circuitous blog post to say: I love my days of prolific productivity when they happen, and I’ll keep striving for them. But, even the days of 300 words still get me somewhere. Celebrate both big and small achievements.

What level of productivity makes you happy?



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