I first encountered Sage Cohen at Wordstock 2012 where I attended a workshop she was presenting called “Success Strategies”. It was a very interesting session, and I was interested in her book The Productive Writer. I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up at the time, but for good or ill I did not buy the book until Wordstock 2013.
I wish I’d bought this sooner.
It’s an education in organisation, in setting and managing expectations, and just in general about getting the most out of the time we have available for writing. Some of it is stuff I already do, but there is a lot in here that is, if not new, then presented in an approachable and relevant way. And I got revelations from this book – not just ideas, but changes in perception.
For example, even in the first chapter there is a section on making a case for your future – not so much convincing yourself that you can write, but collecting ideas and opportunities as they occur so that when you are ready to go out into the world with your work you have already accrued a stack of potential audiences and markets. It’s a simple thing, really, but potentially very powerful.
The first truly revelatory section was one on having multiple platforms and whether to unify those under your brand, or keep them distinct. The thing that really struck me was thinking of all of the writing I do as being part and parcel of the same practice. I already knew this subconsciously (I mean, how often do I say here that software and gaming inform my fiction?) but hadn’t articulated quite so clearly.
And that to me is one of the most important things about this book and about Ms Cohen’s insights – they help expose the things you already know in a way that you can recognise them and accept their value.
Other things I noted down included:
- using different calendar scales to have a clear view of your deadlines and commitments
- organising your book shelves to maximise their inspirational value (for instance, in my own office I have filled the shelves in my eye-line with craft books)
- organising your files more effectively
- scheduling tips
… but that really is only a sample.
I’ve found this to be an worthwhile and, um, productive read, and I commend it to you if you are looking for good ideas on how to work more effectively on your craft.
Time to reread it and put more of this into practice, I think.