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Two of my favourite topics are ‘Writing’ and ‘Productivity’ and the planning linked to bringing successful outcomes about. So Sage Cohen’s latest book, ‘The Productive Writer’ is perfectly attuned to my interests and priorities and I’m sure relevant to other writers interested in making the most of their time and creative efforts.

It’s eminently practical and full of tips for anyone interested in being more organised and able to produce outcomes, especially words framed in a meaningful way to make an impact. It’s relevant to all kinds of writing: poetry, fiction, business writing, non-fiction, blogs and freelance approaches. Ultimately it’s about the place of that writing in the context of your life and how to make all this work.

Sage’s key platform is that productivity is a ‘lifestyle choice’ as she outlines in the introduction:

Productivity, then, is your own, personal GPS as you navigate the endless windernesses of your mind, craft, or subject matter and bring the best of what you have to offer to the page – and the world. Productivity is a means of witnessing and steering yourself toward your greatest good and training yourself to weed out the interference along the way.

‘The Productive Writer’ then navigates its own GPS through these wide waters to cut a swathe of practical advice to assist writers to be as productive as they can in every facet of their work. The weave of the book traverses critical themes you can hang onto as signposts for your own journey. These include:

  • building a case for your future as a writer
  • studying your heroes and how they work
  • establishing a platform or organising principle for your work
  • thinking productively & capturing ideas
  • goal-setting and organisational tips
  • managing time and procrastination tendencies
  • revising tips
  • publishing and promoting
  • sustaining relationships around your work
  • celebrating your success

I especially loved Chapter 12, ‘Writing in the Margins of a Full-time Life’ that reminded me that I am not the only one working full-time and trying to write; that it’s not just about balancing work and writing – it’s about balancing life and writing; and the value of my day job to my writing life and the need to remember to acknowledge the skills I learn there. As Sage comments in the context of her own diverse mix of writing commitments:

Each skill I acquire in service to someone else’s goals becomes a part of my own toolbox.’ (p115)

Sage, as her name suggests, is a very wise writer. This book, linked in with her new platform ‘The Path of Possibility’, brings writing and productivity together in a way that amplifies both and clearly sets them in the context of a broader creative life. Like Sage’s previous book, the wonderful ‘Writing the Life Poetic’, ‘The Productive Writer’ has the effect of taking you by the hand and encouraging you, gently and practically, every step of the way from vision to fruition. Committing to writing is not an easy task and we all need all the support and advice we can get to overcome resistance, barriers and excuses. Sage’s book demonstrates that:

…when we see that there are endless ways to establish and sustain a productive writing life – at any age, in any work-family circumstance – we may have an easier time trusting that we will find our own way forward.’

As you can see from the recent gaps here, for a number of reasons, I am having my own struggles with balancing writing in my life. Thankfully, in the meantime, I have also been reading ‘The Productive Writer’. Whilst struggling with the immediate application at present, the ideas contained there will become a critical part of reorienting my own GPS in moving forward to achieve my writing goals.