27 Writing Productivity Tools, Techniques, and Resources

30 Writing Productivity Tools, Techniques, and Resources

When it comes to tools and techniques, writers are much like golfers: Some of our trusted tools are practical, while others are pure superstition. It doesn’t matter.

Even when you master the fundamentals, it’s comforting to know you have a few tricks in your bag for creating content that helps your communities.

While this list is quite lengthy, nearly every one of these tools, techniques, and resources proved to be invaluable for writing my first traditionally published book. In fact, many of them were discovered on the way to finishing my book on time.

While you may be eager to learn some new tools, none of them will do you any good if your writing is not grounded in the fundamentals. So, let’s then start with a review of proven practices that many notable authors share.

Methods and Practices

#1 – Find the Intersection of Ideas – When you integrate what’s new with what is familiar, you make your content more relatable and relevant.

#2 – Just Start Writing – Writers block is the result of not having a valid writing process. The only way to find your writing process is to start writing. If you do this you’ll occasionally make breakthroughs that will shape that process.

#3 – Write to RememberWriting is a creative process whose foundation is the memories that have long been pushed into the background. Bringing them to the surface naturally leads to finding their relevant intersection with what is present and familiar, with the result being something new.

#4 – Write to Completion – Whether you are writing an article or a chapter, have the discipline to take it to completion. You learn from experience that the thought process that goes into mobilizing to write anything has to be repeated if you fail to finish.

#5 – Close the Door – Writing for most is a very personal experience. For that to happen you have to remove distractions to bring your attention inward. Novelist Stephen King is fond of saying, “Write with the door closed, rewrite (edit) with the door open.

#6 – Write to a Question – Writing to a question gives you perspective. It naturally puts you in conversational mode, thereby making your writing more purposeful.

#7 – Set it Aside – When you flesh out ideas and then set them aside, your subconscious will always be working in the background to make them better. This is what gives you those big moments of inspiration in the shower.

#8 – Physically Move – Movement changes your state of mind. Take a walk, get on the treadmill, or simply run an errand.

#9 – Talk to Yourself – We are all silently talking to ourselves every day. However, if you need to make a breakthrough, it can help to shake things up by asking yourself aloud: “What is the theme? What is this piece about?” If necessary, get mad. It gets the juices flowing!

#10 – Take a Shot of Courage – While not a generally accepted practice, more than a few notable authors have been known to consume adult beverages to “inspire” their writing.  I doubt it’s a smart long-term practice, but it may give you the courage to walk away from some of the words you’ve written, to then start fresh finding the right ones.

Tools and Techniques

#11 – OmmWriter – This focusing tool for your Mac or PC is one of my favorites for the first draft. You choose the screen background, instrumental music, and even the keystroke sound to create an immersive experience.

#12 – Focus@Will – When I’m refining my writing I’ll use Focus@Will. I suggest upgrading to the paid version to get the full selection of music that they claim is backed by neuroscience research. All I know is it works for me, and that’s enough.

#13 – Ambiance – If the ambient sounds of nature put you in the mood, then Ambiance is the mobile app for you. They regularly add new sounds to choose from.

#14 – Bruce BecVar – As a practicing mediation instructor, I became familiar with the original compositions of Bruce BecVar that are designed to activate (Kapha), calm (Pitta), or ground (Vata) ones energies. Designed in partnership with Deepak Chopra, MD, the Magic of Healing series will help you achieve a balanced body-mind for maximizing your productivity.

#15 – Legal Pad – Sometimes you come across a productivity tool that is amazingly simple, yet powerful. Screenwriter and author Steven Pressfield shared how he used the Foolscap Method to create the structure for The Legend of Bagger Vance, by outlining the Acts I, II, and III on just ONE sheet of legal pad paper, otherwise known as foolscap. You can use it to find the shape of your articles, stories, book, or any other writing project.

#16 – Notebook – For years I’ve used Moleskine notebooks to journal ideas every morning, or for taking notes throughout the day. I’m planning to try the Ecosystem notebooks which, unlike the Moleskine, have all the pages perforated. This is useful if you prefer to tear out and scan pages to upload them to Dropbox or Evernote. Both are available on Amazon.

#17 – Index Cards – Carry them to always have something to write on. I purchased a leather “card wallet” from Levenger that includes a small pen that fits into a jacket or jeans pocket.

#18 – Google – When you are writing to a theme, Google it to see what is out there now. You will discover what hasn’t been addressed, and learn which headlines or titles are most commonly searched for by your target audience.

#19 – WhiteBoard – My whiteboard serves to capture ideas and keep them in my awareness for use in upcoming works of writing. I use the GeniusScan app to store them in PDF format to the cloud to have them available when traveling.

#20 – Checkvist –  Checkvist is a powerful keyboard driven software application for managing checklists online. It’s key features are speed, sharing across multiple devices and users, tagging, and so much more. The small amount for the upgraded version is well worth it.

Books and Online Resources


#21 – On Writing – If you are not familiar with Stephen King’s On Writing, get ready for an unexpected ride. As he explains where his ideas come from, how he makes them better, and more, you will get an intoxicating dose of his wicked sense of humor. The audio version read by the author is highly recommended!

#22 – Why We Write – Twenty of America’s notable novelists share their secrets of a successful writing career in this recently published book. Their respective practices are both inspiring and informative.

#23 – Do The Work – Most writers resonate with Steven Pressfield’s classic, The War of Art. Yet, I’ve found his follow-up Do The Work to be more direct, and therefore useful for overcoming the dreaded Resistance that stops us from creating our best work.

#24 – Improv Wisdom – After nearly a decade in print, Patricia Ryan Madson’s little book on improvisation is a goldmine of exercises that will have you forever convinced that there is no such thing as writers block.


#25 – CopyBlogger – In addition to the daily blog articles, Copyblogger offers hundreds of free resources, including tutorials, eBooks, webinars, seminars, and podcasts. Sign up for a free MyCopyblogger.com account to get started.

#26 – Brain PickingsBrainPickings is a site for the more intellectually inclined. This weekly newsletter arrives Sunday mornings, and often contains hard-to-find insights from some of the world’s greatest writers and thinkers.

#27- Steven Pressfield – Steven Pressfield Online is a blog I always look forward to reading, probably because you get the truth about the craft from an accomplished writer who faces his writing demons every day, just like you and me. If you sign up for his First Look Access he’ll email it to you, along with some nice benefits from time-to-time, such as free digital copy of one of his books.

Do you need a little push to start writing? Here are three practical reasons for doing the work.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley)  

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+.

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5 Writing Tips for Finishing Your Book on Time


The process of writing  is uniquely personal. Therefore, there are many idiosyncratic habits that many authors cling to.

That’s not what this article is about. These are breakthrough tips that will challenge what you have believed about the writing process.

I learned these tips on the way to writing my first traditionally published book, which was written in less than a month. In fact, they were a direct result of that intensive period of writing.

#1 – Writing is Easy – Editing is Hard

Writing a book is much more than writing, and that happens to be the first tip.

Once you have the basic outline for your book it’s time to start writing. It turns out the outline I created a full year before writing my book is nearly exactly what I followed when I finally got down to the writing, which happened to be a month before my publisher’s deadline.

Accept the fact that your first draft of your book will be crap and have to be rewritten. So, just get it done. As Seth Godin says, fail fast.

I wrote each chapter of my book in less than a day to meet that deadline. But that’s just the beginning.

What you will discover is writing is remembering. You’ll pull together all kinds of ideas; some will be brilliant and others will be edited out. By editing I’m talking about rewriting.

Having tried a number of methods, I learned that rewriting, again, and again, and again, is still much less time consuming than trying to clean up that original. If it starts as crap it will remain so until it is completely rewritten.

Editing is rewriting. It’s the hardest part of writing. Tweet this

#2 – Write Without a View

When I started writing my book my office had a beautiful view of a lake. That’s exactly why nothing happened, and how I ended up with such a tight deadline.

These days my office is a windowless room where I have no idea if its day or night, and that’s exactly what you need to if you are a writer.

In addition to avoiding distractions, when your energies are confined to a smaller space the focus on your writing intensifies.

Get rid of the view and watch your writing flow. Tweet this

#3 – Whether Flowing or Stuck, Keep Writing to Completion

Some days it was a challenge to write 2,500 words. Other days over 10,000 words flowed. The challenge is to keep your butt in the seat and accept what you create.

My goal every day was to write a chapter; and I did. I refused to leave that office until I had a complete piece, regardless of its quality. Finished is finished and it feels darn good.

That said, it is interesting that a longer piece of content is far more difficult to edit than one that is shorter. Why? We fall in love our ideas and dread the thought of tossing them out.

Whether you are writing the first draft or the fifth, keep going to completion. Tweet this

#4 – Question What Your Writing is About

It is much easier to write to a question than a subject heading. That’s how you draw out your best ideas and achieve clarity for your audience.

When you are writing, and especially when you are rewriting, ask questions.

  • What is this about?
  • What is the theme?
  • Where is this going?
  • What does this want to be when it grows up?!!

If you are at all like me, you may need to have a meltdown to make a breakthrough. Believe me, I had plenty. Thankfully meditation kept me sane. After that you will be at peace and create some of your best work.

Resistance to completing any project means its important to you.  Tweet this

#5 – Ask for Feedback Only When You Are Finished

The expression that everyone has a book inside of them is probably true. However, your book will not come out if you invite others to the party. You have to do this alone (unless you have a co-author) to bring out your unique perspective.

When I was done with my rewriting I invited friends I respect to offer their feedback. It was all valuable. Even the feedback I did not agree with forced me to challenge my own thinking.

You will become even more confident about your writing when it is challenged. Although, getting that feedback too early means your work is no longer your work, and that will create needless doubt.

Stephen King says, “Write with the door closed; rewrite with it open.”  Tweet this

This is more than great advice, it’s essential for getting YOUR book finished, not the book someone else wants you to write.

Are  you planning to or already writing a book? Leave a comment and share.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)  

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+.

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What’s Your Writing Process?

If you don’t have a writing process that you regularly practice, you will be challenged with consistently turning out quality content. Do you start with an outline? Do you rewrite? How many times will you edit? These and many other considerations, such as your writing environment, will greatly enhance your writing productivity. Whether you work […]

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