How to Feel More Productive While Writing

Many of us are programmed to feel good when we have produced something. I often hear from academics that they don’t feel productive when they are writing and so they don’t feel good about it. It feels like there is always more that could be done – a sentence tweaked or a word changed here or there. Writing can feel endless, which is not helpful or motivating. 

So, how do we feel like we’ve produced something at the end of the day?

The good news is, that you are in control of what’s defined as done. What’s important is for you to define how you will feel complete about your writing each day so that you are consciously creating an end to support you to incorporate rest and celebrate wherever you are at with your writing. 

To define how to feel complete about your writing each day answer the following questions for yourself: 

  1. How can I define what is complete for me in my writing for today?
    Start by creating containers of time and what you would like to complete in that container. The first time you do this, you will likely not set out what you wanted to complete. However, by being in process with how long a writing task ACTUALLY takes you, you can support yourself to create more do-able intentions for yourself going forward. This will make all the difference in how you feel about your writing! Often we are creating intentions based on a false sense of how long something “should” take us and when we don’t complete it we end up beating ourselves up about it. 
  2. How am I going to support myself to stay motivated and incorporate rest throughout the day?
    If you try to write all day you will exhaust yourself, especially if you are using fear as a motvator (see #3). Use your freedom as an academic to confidently define how you use your time. Try out different types and times for breaks. Take note and create awareness around what’s working and build on that to create a system that supports you to stay restored and motivated. 
  3. How am I going to celebrate completion today?
    Reinforce feeling good about the productivity that YOU have defined for yourself by giving yourself a reward. What’s your reward – reading a novel, watching a movie, connecting with a friend? One of my favourites is watching young kids sing their hearts out for the first time on American Idol. These activate all sorts of inexplicable, juicy emotions in me that I love to experience in these little tidbits. What feels delicious and delightful to you? Play with this and see what feels good.

Voltaire said, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Understanding when we feel complete with something vs. when we are heading into the zone of perfecting is an important part of understanding when to create a time to rest for yourself and to celebrate so that you can maintain motivation in a new way that is more kind and compassionate with yourself. 

If you are feeling exhausted from motivating yourself through fear and you are ready to approach your writing differently, please email me at to schedule your complimentary Discovery Call where we will take a look at what’s happening for you and whether the work that I do is a good fit for you or not. 



ps Please know that I recognize that all of this is much easier said/written than done. If you are tired of your efforts not working on your own and ready to receive the container of support that’s required to create sustainable change, please email me at

pps in case it works for you too – here’s my favourite American Idol clip of Grace Vanderwaal. It gets me every time.

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