Let’s Swap All Our Assumptions About Writing Productivity
I decided to stop taking myself so seriously. But first, a story: In 2019, I quit my cubicle minion job that was messing with my mental and physical health to write full-time. I didn’t think I was off the 9–5 path forever, but the more I started to breathe post-escape, the more I realized that I never wanted to go back to a grind that didn’t care about me and didn’t work with my brain. Interruptions and task switching are horribly frustrating for me — they’re hard on everyone and statistically lessen productivity. But for the moment, I was writing “full-time”; the plan was to pour 40 hours a week into my writing projects.
I hit the ground running. I had platforms I was already writing on occasionally, and I started regularly producing content. Because you’re only a writer if you’ve written today — or so I unhealthily reminded myself.
I’m 100% okay with being responsible for my own productivity. And I don’t care if anyone reads what I’ve written.
I didn’t have the external pressures of a manager to please, but I had my own pride and stubbornness. And I cared much more about how good my pride made me feel than I’d ever cared about my office manager’s opinion. But two things got in my way: life and my brain.
Life: I’d take a day to handle errands, visit my mother, clean the house, etc. And then it would be two days. Three. I’d lose momentum. I’d start doubting my entire plan of being a working writer because, ahem, I hadn’t written that day.
My brain: I was constantly getting distracted by the shiny new writing project. I would consume content and wonder if I should attempt a new strategy, or incorporate a certain topic into my writing. I had thoughts on this new subject that were worth putting into an essay. How long would it take me to develop those thoughts? Not long, right? I just need to find that NPR article it reminded me of so that I can cite the numbers I heard the other day while driving and that’ll just take me … where has the day gone? Why am I now hungry, frustrated, and still haven’t written…