People often talk about magic time of creativity. When are they at their best during the day and when do they feel they are the most productive, focusing exclusively on quality output? It is typically the time when there are the least amount of distractions in the day. For those disciplined enough to do it, early in the morning is best. No one is calling you or texting you. The social media beasts are the same as they were last night when you checked their feeds. There are no meetings or conference calls. There are also no excuses. It is only you and your creative project, sitting in the morning darkness.
Blocking time is key to enhanced productivity. I shall do nothing else except [this] for the next two hours. No email. No Social. No text. No iPhone. No Internet. Only this. This intimidates people. They don’t like being “cut-off” from the world, if even for a few hours. It gives them anxiety. It reminds me of airplane passengers’ contempt for in-air WiFi that doesn’t work. God forbid you don’t check email for two hours. As Steven Pressfield reminds his readers over and over and over again, we must sit down and do our work. Even if it is excruciating.
Blocking time gives you the magic time of creativity, whenever that is for you. If you don’t have that magic time set aside each day, you need to try it. It is a wonderful habit to get into and very rewarding for those who stick with it. My start came from Jeffrey Gitomer, long-time Sales Kingpin, leader, speaker, trainer, and coach. He advises people to simply start a writing habit of 15 minutes a day every morning when you wake up. He doesn’t even care what you write about, just write. Wake up. Get your coffee. Get to the laptop and write. He claims our minds are in a cleaner, more open frame first thing in the morning, which makes this time of day perfect for writing. I have discovered this to be true. So, I tried and tried and tried every day to write for 15 minutes. And I wrote for 15 minutes on the weekends, too. Those 15 minutes soon became 30. The 30 minutes became 45. Before I knew it, I had dozens and dozens of pages written with no real goal. The only goal was to wake up and write every day. It continues on years later. It is now a daily discipline — weekends included — and a private victory every single morning. Even if I did “nothing else productive” that day, I still woke up and wrote.
There are several benefits to a daily writing habit. The practice makes all of your other writing projects easier and faster to complete. If you write for a living — you actually get paid for your output — this daily practice is invaluable. But it trickles out into other domains as well. Writing well for specific audiences means you can push your talent and tenacity into creating video scripts, blog posts, interviews, How-to’s, speeches, webinars, PPT, wherever stories are told. You do this not only for yourself, but for others as well. If you do this for others, you’ll find that most people really don’t want to write, even if they say they do. (They want to have written.) You’ll be writing their stuff as well.
I think often of Seth Godin’s challenge to writers to start a blog and post to it every day because it gets you into the habit of thinking about your audience and what they might want to hear next. It also gets you thinking about your writing with greater frequency. In another way, it teaches you to not judge your writing because it does you no good. After all, are you writing for you or are you writing for an audience? If you’re getting paid, you’re writing for an audience, so you need to constantly be questioning what you’re writing and whether it will resonate with the audience you write for. It teaches you empathy. You think, What would they think here? What would they want to see? What would really surprise them? These are not questions about you. They are questions about them. Treat your audience like you would a good friend, the way Tim treats his audience and fans. He’s giving them 680 pages regularly these days. That is some prolific quality output.