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What does it mean to become a highly productive writer? Is this an attainable goal for the “average” person? Many people believe that writing is a mysterious, inspirational process. In other words, some people are innately gifted for writing. But what if writing was less about divine inspiration and more about skills? Studies show that while innate talent is a factor, people tend to underestimate the importance of building habits to grow in skill and productivity. Keep reading below to learn five common habits that prolific writers employ, and find even more here. These are great next steps for anyone looking to improve their competence and output.

  1. Set daily goals for word count. While it may seem counterintuitive to set a “quantity” goal rather than focus on quality, setting a word count goal provides a tangible and achievable objective. This is critical for establishing consistency and confidence. Additionally, a word count goal can prevent the tendency for a writer to give up prematurely when they become discouraged.
  2. Block out space to outline. Doing some warm-up writing could be helpful, but intentionally planning the direction and organization of content can improve efficiency and prevent writer’s block. If a new idea strikes, a writer can always edit the plan or change course.

  3. Cultivate focus. Writing is high-level mental work, which means that boosting concentration pays dividends in the quality of the work. This means minimizing distraction and understanding what kind of working environments foster deeper focus. See this summary of the book “Deep Work” to further ideas on developing focus.

  4. Release the inner critic. Writing is a multi-stage process. Giving oneself permission to finish that first draft is crucial. Overly criticizing the initial draft only creates barriers to improving the quality of work. Furthermore, using a critical lens too early can cause a writer to miss the good ideas that the first attempt starts to flesh out.


    5. Read observantly and critically. Examining other writers’ work and understanding their techniques is paramount to building skill and confidence. A writer than can recognize both excellent and sub-par writing will be able to identify it in their own. For suggestions on identifying quality writing, check out this article.