Non-Traditional Advice for Busy or Undisciplined Writers

This is supposed to be an article about how to be a focused and intentional writer. It’s supposed to equip busy people with tools and techniques to fit writing into an already full life.

  • I could tell you to wake up at 5 a.m. and write for an hour. Do it every day, no matter what.
  • I could tell you to write 1,000 words a day before you do anything else.
  • I could tell you to write something even if you don’t know what to write.
  • I could tell you to “write ugly” and clean it up later.

That’s all good advice and it might work, but it’s never worked for me.

I am a broken writer, yet somehow I’ve managed to complete two books.

My first book, Conquer the Entrepreneur’s Kryptonite, took three years to complete. I wrote the bulk of it on long flights in first class, where I could zone out all distractions (it helped that I didn’t have Wi-Fi).

Eighteen months after that book was released, I finished the first draft of my second book, Challenge Accepted!, in just five days. Before I tell you how I did it, I must share a few things:

  • I am a binge writer who will knock out thousands of words one day and then nothing for months.
  • I edit my writing as I go instead of letting the words flow.
  • I still prefer two spaces after periods (but fix in post-production).
  • I am a procrastinating perfectionist with non-clinical OCD-tendencies.
  • And I’m the married father of two kids, a school board member, serve on the board of directors for the state school board association, work a full-time job, run a solo-business that includes coaching, consulting, teaching, and podcasting, and I do publishing and web design for clients and myself (I’m as busy as anyone out there).

So here’s how I wrote my second book in five days instead of three years:

It’s a shorter book (15,000 words vs. 40,000).Challenge_Accepted!_Cover_for_Kindle
Big books aren’t better than small ones. The book needs to be the length it needs to be. Don’t force it; let it arrive.

I lived it for two years before sitting down to write.
Write what you know. There’s less research involved and you don’t need to fake anything.

I outlined it for a four-part podcast series first.
Break it down before you write. Know the form it may take and adjust once you get going.

I recycled some content from my blog and podcast.
You can plagiarize yourself, not others. Recycling isn’t only good for the environment (just don’t recycle trash that doesn’t fit).

My family was away for a long weekend (the loner was alone).
If you are a binge writer, find the time to binge and never waste a good opportunity.

A firm deadline was looming.
There is nothing like a deadline to make a procrastinator do his best work in a short period of time.

I hope that helps and/or encourages you to pursue your writing even if you’re broken like I am. The world needs what you’re chewing on in your head. Find a way to get it out.



James Woosley

James Woosley is an underachiever—only because he’s constantly expanding his potential by doing something amazing, then immediately striving for more—knowing that his mind, body, and spirit have been stretched to a new level of possibilities. As a business coach, consultant, and project manager, James helps people and organizations move ideas from the dreaming and planning stages to full implementation. He sets goals, plans strategically, and makes things happen—for himself and those around him. He is the author of Conquer the Entrepreneur’s Kryptonite: Simple Strategic Planning for You and Your Business and Challenge Accepted!: A Simple Strategy for Living Life on Purpose. [/guestpost]


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James Woosley - May 29, 2015

Thanks for allowing me to guest post on your site, Erin!

If anyone has any questions, I’ll be checking the comments and will share what I can.

— James

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