A Short Guide to More Output for Writers

Nathan Slaughter
Feb 5 · Unlisted

The output for writers isn’t words. It’s publications. Here’s how I increased mine.

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Writing doesn’t actually require communication. My journal is just to clarify my ideas. It’s immediate — just for me and just for now.

Publishing isn’t as easy as gushing out alphabet soup at top speed where sharing the experience doesn’t matter.

For the last six months, the first thing I have done most days is write. I also wrote a couple of other things. But the output from all of this time was zero.

If you’re getting started with writing and you want to publish then there’s another way you could go about it. And you’ll end up with a fine body of work.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

You could choose to publish first thing every day. That’s what I’m choosing now.

For the last few days I’ve taken a new approach. Now I sit down to write an email (for an audience), an article, or a web page.

The new attention that I place on clarity and quality for publishing reduces the speed that the words show up in my editor. But I’m making progress on my real goals with every keystroke.

My thinking about what needed to be done was foggy before. Because I had known my whole life that I loved writing, even when I wasn’t so dedicated to the habit. And time after time I heard “writers write.”

Who could argue with that? But what does this truism really mean?

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You can call yourself a writer if you pour words into editors. But that’s never what I aspired to when I said that I wanted to be a writer. I’ve never hoped to fill my drives with thousands of unfinished drafts.

That’s like the kid who dreams of playing in the majors hitting over and over at the batting cages, but never shows up a baseball diamond.

There’s nothing wrong with practice. And now I build it into my publishing process. But if you had to choose then you could do better focusing only on time on the field.

“The only purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship.”

— Seth Godin, Linchpin

Published writers publish.

And the aspiration that has always drawn me to writing is publishing. That’s my real goal.

If you want to publish, ship, or finish anything then these rules I’ve discovered through my writing journey are for you.

1. Envision the final result.

As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it.
— Arnold Schwarzenegger

My early goals and measurements were vague. I knew that I would have a few kilobytes of text after a while. And I didn’t aim for anything different than keeping my commitment to write.

What I was missing was the vision and commitment for the final result I wanted. Now when I sit down I have a clear idea in my mind to create an article, an email, or a blog post.

I’m measuring myself on progress toward that final result, which is an output. Hard word, keeping commitments, and putting in time are all good. They’re required. But they aren’t enough for results.

2. Plan the work.

Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.

— Paul J. Meyer

My planning is in the form of outlines. I start with headings and structures of what I want to say. And I expand on them.

This is important for me, because I have the skill of wasting words typing at my editor. And planning is what steers my output toward the results I want.

3. Follow a process.

I have to do things in a certain order to get my best result. First I have to make my specific plan. Then I have to do the writing. And finally I will rewrite and edit.

If I’m not careful then perfectionism takes over in the rewriting. Instead of improving my work I’ll be throwing out what I have done and starting over mid-stream without a plan.

Working to a process helps me to keep that in check. I know how to guide my effort at various steps.

4. Dedicate time to improve quality.

There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education.

— Jiddu Krishnamurti

My final review at the end of my process helps me correct things like grammar and clarity. Right now it also helps me improve readability with transitions.

But it’s about more than working on each piece. This is the phase when I see where I can do the most to increase my skills.

More and more I’m finding that including logical transitions between thoughts add the most value to my readability. And that I could get much better at structure upfront.

Executive Summary

These 4 guidelines should help you to increase your output.

Start now by choosing the final product that you want. If you’re choosing to build a skill then look for ways you can channel that to the real output you want.

If your goal seems overwhelming for your skill level then dial down to a smaller, yet complete version. Because building skill in isolation doesn’t count for output.

Once you have your result in mind, plan your work, and follow your process. Finally, work on your skills while you work on the quality of each piece. You’ll find that publishing improves how you think about quality to begin.

Thanks for reading. If you want to learn more about marketing your writing then you can sign-up for my free course below.


Nathan Slaughter

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Freelance data, analytics, ads, and content. Pro writer in Go, Python, BASH, and English. Data hacker before it was cool.