10 Weird Writer Productivity Boosters and 3 Necessary Habits
Don’t worry, I haven’t jumped the shark into lifehacker territory.
Hacks are always less valuable than building great habits and working hard.
However, there are a few cool things you can learn along the way. Regular readers of the blog might notice that “weird” topics tend to pop up on a Sunday. I’ve no idea why, but here are some magic tricks for today.
- Change Your Word Processor Font
- Forget writing as a business itself – apply what you’ve learned to a hobby. (Most businesspeople know nothing about copywriting or online marketing stuff. Most hobbyists know nothing about business.)
- Use your copywriting for personal development reasons.
- Adapt your business model to something else. How many writers use a subscription model? How many would-be web entrepreneurs target offline business?
- Imagine your deadline is twice as close. What do you do differently? (I wrote my first ever published short story by pretending that a guy had a gun to my head. It worked.)
- Change your keyboard for a day.
- In fact – try and avoid the computer for a day. This is something I’ve been experimenting with: Try recording yourself and writing things out by hand.
- Write fiction. If you already do that, then try something in a genre you’ve never thought about before.
- Pick an unrealistic goal and try and achieve it in one day. Think you can write 20,000 words in a day? Think you can’t? You’ll never be sure until you find out.
- Write as if you’re a different writer. Try to mimic their style and anticipate what they’d write about. For instance: What do you think a Gary Halbert sales letter for the latest product would say? How would Stephen King write a paranormal romance? What would you do if you had to write songs for some heavy metal dinosaurs?
Let’s Talk About Drugs
Human beings have a fascination with recreational drugs. Whilst the drug of choice differs, the majority of people are seeking an altered state of consciousness by using them.
- Alcohol depresses the system and lowers inhibitions.
- Cannabis relaxes you and makes you want to eat pizza.
- LSD sends you into a magic world.
- Cocaine will turn you into an egomaniacal eighties rock star.
You get the point. (Medical disclaimer: Don’t do drugs, and certainly don’t trust my thoughts on them.)
When you do the writing hacks I’ve suggested above, you will experience altered states. Your writing will consequently be completely different. It seems stupid to say that changing the font on Word would turn you into a different author; but try it. It is one of the weirdest experiences for me, after writing thousands of words in the standard Calibri font, to switch to a Baskerville font or something.
Writing in a completely different way – and thinking in a completely different way – aren’t just fun exercises. They’ll improve your output. You’ll find weaknesses that you wouldn’t have otherwise found, and you’ll come across ideas and ways to implement things that you wouldn’t ordinarily do.
You might even find some ideas that are just good on their own. Or, you might write some inspired material just from doing some of the above exercises.
That Said… 3 Habits Which Will Grant You Permanent Writing Improvements
Weird tricks will only take you so far. There are three major things that a writer needs to do constantly in order to really improve their craft. Those are:
- Read more
- Write more
- Experience more
Those three things, whilst pretty vague or all-encompassing, are going to make you a better writer than your peers.
If you don’t read enough, you simply aren’t going to feed your brain with ideas and subconscious knowledge of how writing is put together. It’s the writing equivalent of a healthy diet for your body.
If you don’t write a lot, then you’re not going to get the “mental muscle memory” and the practice you require to be good. Nobody is born an excellent writer. Writing frequently is the writing equivalent to exercising your body.
The third part – experiencing more – is crucial. If you sit in a room and wait for inspiration to come to you, then you’re going to be a boring writer. If you go out and experience things, then you’ll have things to write about. Whether you’re a copywriter creating sales pages or a fiction writer trying to find plots, they are out there in the real world. Also, your writing style will accumulate new dimensions as you experience new things. To carry on the healthy living metaphor, experiencing things is like finding new ways to use your body – playing sports, hiking and otherwise pushing yourself to physically demanding peaks.
Hopefully, I’ve covered some interesting things in this article. I want you to use them in real life. Don’t just say, “That’s cool, I’ll try one of those later,” and then browse to somebody else’s site to read more articles.
Let me know in the comments how you get on with the exercises. I’m always interested to know if the weird things I find have the same effect on others as they do on me!