It’s NaNoWriMo / AcWriMo Time!

It’s that time of year again!   Visit our NaNoWriMo Resource Center so that, come November 30, you’ll be partying like SuperWriter!  

The 14 Rules of Prolific Writing

The proper goal for all writing projects should be to “Get it done.” (Not fabulousness, comprehensiveness, to create a best seller, “revolutionize my field,” impress my advisor/family, make a fortune, etc. See Rule #13 on Quality, below.) Use a speedy, free-writing, free-revising technique. Aim for a large number of quick drafts where you make a […]

Summer 2014 Online Classes

I’m teaching three great online classes this summer, two on writing productivity, and one on weight loss. Online classes are fun, convenient, inexpensive, and you do get loads of individualized attention from me. Check out my Events page for more information, and hope to see you in class.

What Being “Willing to Fail” Really Means

These days, many people know it’s okay to fail.* They understand that failure is an essential part of any ambitious path, and also a fantastic learning opportunity. They also know that if you’re not failing at least some of the time, you’re probably not taking enough risks. This failure-is-okay viewpoint is reinforced by many inspiring […]

Why People Quit Big Projects (And How Not To!)

The below fantastic article from is aimed at graduate students, but really pertains to anyone who is struggling, or has struggled, with a big project. (Just substitute “boss” for “supervisor” if needed!) Thanks to the the Thesis Whisperer herself, Dr. Inger Mewburn, Director of Research Training at the Australian National University, for kind permission […]

Historians are Getting Less Blame-y and You Should, Too!

So privileged, last night, to hear a lecture at Kalamazoo College by Christopher Clark, one of the world’s leading historians. His recent book on the causes of World War I is called The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914; and please note the interesting “How” in the subtitle. Clark says he used “how” […]

Why Tough-Guy Metaphors About Creativity Don’t Work

Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the best writers on the web right now, using his blog and other venues to discuss race, culture, history, and a myriad of other topics. He writes long, thoughtful pieces, and even his commenters can be dauntingly erudite. He’s currently debating New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait on whether […]

Do You Suffer From Marketer’s Block?

Recently, I’ve noticed an interesting evolution in the writing productivity classes I teach. Up until a few years ago, writers almost always took one of my classes because they were procrastinating or blocked on a book or other work. These days, however, many who take my classes have finished their book: it’s their marketing they’re […]

Sorry, Kurt Vonnegut, You’re “Not Compelling Enough”

Everyone gets rejected. Even Kurt Vonnegut, Madonna, Andy Warhol, and others who went on to be luminaries in their field. If you get rejected, don’t take it to heart. Learn from the experience and move on. Mostly, rejection is simply proof that you haven’t given up–which is a great thing.

Ann Patchett on Surviving Creativity’s Core Disappointment

Ann Patchett has many useful things to say about writing in her new essay collection, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, and in particular about the core creative challenge of surviving the fatal moment when, having finally summoned the courage to bring your vision to life, it immediately disappoints: “Only a few of us […]

What is the biggest barrier standing between you and greater productivity?

In my case, it used to be perfectionism that shut down the creative process before it started. I spent nearly five years writing and rewriting the same novel chapter because I was terrified of having others see it and judge it. Then – as I got less perfectionist – my biggest barrier became time management. […]

10 Ways to Seduce a Writer

No, not that way, silly!           They’re all fine suggestions, but they missed the best one of all: Buy his/her book!

On The Importance of Going OFF the Internet

Going off the Internet seems a radical act, but for most people it’s essential for creativity. The Internet is inherently and continuously interruptive, and that’s not a good mix with creative work, or productivity in general. In classes, I quote Jonathan Franzen (“It’s doubtful that anyone with an Internet connection at his workplace is writing […]

What Muhammad Ali Can Teach You About Getting More Work Done

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” That famous quote from Muhammad Ali really does captures the spirit and essence of productive, joyful work. Let’s break it down: 1) “Float like a butterfly.” You move lightly and freely around and through your work until you see an aspect of it that inspires you. (Inspiration […]

John Scalzi on Why You Should Never Let Your Reviewers Get You Down

The Inimitable One offers a list of one-star reviews of books that later went on to win science fiction’s celebrated Hugo award. My favorite is this review of Scalzi’s own novel Red Shirts, which actually uses the word “onanistic”: This is an onanistic shallow and very disappointing book. Little or no character development. What should […]