Skip to main content

Top 10 Productivity Pitfalls for Writers to Avoid

When you find time to write, you want to make sure you’re making the most of whatever time you have. With that in mind, here are Sage Cohen's productivity pitfalls you should avoid. By Sage Cohen

The top 10 productivity pitfalls you should avoid:

1. Unclear big-picture vision. Without an idea of where you’re headed, it will be impossible to set realistic goals and measure your progress along the way.

2. Lack of short-term goals. You can’t hit a target you can’t see. Knowing your daily, weekly, monthly and annual goals (both practical and aspirational) can help you keep moving in the right direction.

3. Fear. Risk is the hinge on which productivity turns; if we aren’t in danger of failing, we aren’t growing. When we let fear prevent us from taking steps that could bring our writing dreams closer, we limit our opportunities to succeed.

4. Trying to force productivity. Understanding your writing rhythms and honoring them is the key to finding and sustaining a flow you can count on.

5. Shabby systems. If you can’t find the latest draft of your essay, can’t keep track of what you’ve pitched and to whom, and don’t remember that great idea you had last week, you’re limiting yourself needlessly.

6. Lack of awareness about time: If you’re not aware of how you’re spending time, what your time is worth, how you might devote more time to writing, or what you intend to accomplish in each chunk of writing time you do have, you’re not maximizing this most precious resource.

7. Transition turbulence. Work to establish rhythms for everything from sitting down to the blank page to completing a writing session, so that shifts from one project to the next don’t leave you in a lull.

8. Perfectionism. If you wait for your work to be perfect, it (and you) may never leave your desk. Focus, instead, on professionalism—doing the best you can, learning along the way, and understanding that mistakes and failures feed every success.

9. Isolation. Without a social, professional and community context, we’re far more likely to get discouraged, lose our way and miss out on opportunities.

10. Negativity.
It’s easy to focus on the negative in writing and in life. But when we turn our attention to what’s working and what we appreciate from moment to moment, our sails turn into the wind.

Learn how to create strong characters, craft believable dialogue & get the attention of agents with:
The Writer’s Little Helper

Image placeholder title

Become a WD VIP and Save 10%:
Get a 1-year pass to WritersMarket.com, a 1-year subscription to Writer's Digest magazine and 10% off all WritersDigestShop.com orders! Click here to join.


Also check out these items from the Writer's Digest's collection:
Writer's Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Beginnings, Middles & Ends

Writer's Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Scene & Structure

Writer's Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Description
Writer's Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Characters & Viewpoint

Writer's Digest No More Rejections
Writer's Digest Weekly Planner

Writer's Digest How to Land a Literary Agent (On-Demand Webinar)
Writer's Digest Magazine One-Year Subscription
Writer's Digest 10 Years of Writer's Digest on CD: 2000-2009

Elizabeth Shick: On Research Through Immersion

Elizabeth Shick: On Research Through Immersion

Award-winning novelist Elizabeth Shick discusses the complete rewrite she devoted to her debut novel, The Golden Land.

6 Habits Writers Can Learn From Athletes

6 Habits Writers Can Learn From Athletes

Author and athlete Henriette Lazaridis shares six tips and habits that writers can learn from athletes.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Last Chance to Nominate Your Favorite Writing Websites, Our Historical Fiction Virtual Conference, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce the deadline to nominate your favorite writing websites, our Historical Fiction Virtual Conference, and more!

4 Tips for Writing a Modern Retelling

4 Tips for Writing a Modern Retelling

From having reverence for the original to making it your own, author Nikki Payne shares four tips for writing a modern retelling.

Faint vs. Feint (Grammar Rules)

Faint vs. Feint (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use faint vs. feint in your writing with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples. Plus, we answer whether it's "faint of heart" or "feint of heart."

6 Books to Cozy Up With This Winter | Book Recommendations

6 Books to Cozy Up With This Winter

Here are 6 book recommendation perfect for winter reading.

12 Things to Consider When Writing Fight Scenes in Fiction (FightWrite™)

12 Things to Consider When Writing Fight Scenes in Fiction (FightWrite™)

Trained fighter and author Carla Hoch shares 12 things all writers should consider when attempting to write effective fight scenes in fiction.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unreal Character

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unreal Character

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character turn out to be less than they seem.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Next Steps

Here are the final steps for the 15th annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge! Use December and the beginning of January to revise and collect your poems into a chapbook manuscript. Here are some tips and guidelines.