Need a Kick in the Productivity Pants? Try Journaling

 This is Day 2 of my 31 Days of August Awesomeness posts. Click here for how it all started…

 Ask anyone who has known me for any length of time, and they will confirm what I am about to tell you: I am a lifelong procrastinator.  It is a crippling habit when paired with my other “p” weakness: perfectionism. What do you get accomplished when you are a perfectionist procrastinator?


I have had a bazillion false starts in my writing career. That’s why I spent 7 years working on the Edge of Shadows manuscript. That’s right: 7 YEARS! I wrote it, I edited it, I changed it, I got brave in 2009 and gave it to a bunch of beta readers, I edited it some more based on their feedback, I lost that version (whole other story), then I tweaked, moaned, and edited some more. It still wasn’t right. I felt like I still wasn’t ready, and so I shoved it away for another day.

Now that easily could have been the end of my story. Aspiring writer finds reality and trudges back to day job content to live out the rest of her life. 

Then quite by accident, I stumbled across a reference to a book on a writing blog called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. If you are an artist, not even a writer but any kind of creator of artistic work, and you are stuck, you must run (don’t walk!) to Amazon and buy this book. I’m absolutely serious- the book will change your life.

I’ll wait.

The single most important habit that book taught me, and a habit I continue today is to journal. I journal three long-handed pages almost everyday. I started the self-paced The Artist’s Way course in October 2011, and as you can see by the picture at the top of this post, I’m on my 5th journal.

Why do I consider this course and this habit life-changing? I got out of my own way.

Consider this. Prior to October 2011, I had written two 50,000 word manuscript drafts which were both collecting dust in a drawer. Fast forward ten months. One of those manuscripts I published (Edge of Shadows), and then I’ve written and published 4 more. Ageless is written and with my editor, so that’s really 4 1/2 by my count. And I’m well underway on the next book.

My writing has been taken to a whole new level. I’m not afraid to take risks. I’ve had my share of failures and lessons learned, but that is far outweighed by the massive burst of energy and productivity that I’m leveraging on a daily basis.

It all starts with my journaling. In it, I allow myself to be whiny. I allow myself to be self-deprecating and get down on myself. I nit-pick dumb things I’ve done. But I also plan out what I want to get accomplished each day. I pat myself on the back for every victory. And I have a fabulous record of my writing journey. I get shivers thinking about being able to come back and read my first entry in my first journal five or ten years from now.

It’s heady stuff, powerful stuff. And it’s addictive.

Journaling has opened up my mind and jumpstarted my productivity. It’s one of my awesome productivity secrets, and I’m delighted to be sharing it with you.

By the way, you may be thinking “Well sure, Cege, you’re a writer so journaling is easy for you.” I may have written in a diary a couple of times when I was a teenager, but this kind of structured writing has never been part of my writing routine. Finding the time and sticking with it was a challenge. But in the end, it became part of my day and it’s something I look forward to.

So if you are looking for a way to shake up your routine and find massive loads of inspiration? Try journaling. Plus, it’s a great excuse to go shopping at your local bookstore. 🙂

The Book That Changed My Life

Now please know, I don’t make such a claim lightly.  To call something “life changing” carries some pretty big expectations.  Especially when I recognize that my journey is different than your journey, which is different from my best girlfriend’s journey, and so on and so on.

But even when our paths are different, we often encounter similar challenges on our way toward our goals. Fear. Discomfort. Pain. Loss. Guilt.

So when you reach the point of making a decision to change, for better or worse, you have to buckle in for a bit of a wild emotional ride. And you can’t forget to bring your map.  And that’s what I feel like Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way can be for the struggling creative.

In September 2011, I decided that I was done sitting around waiting for my writing career to start.  (I should just get it out there that I had a lot of baggage to deal with on this topic.)  But I bought the book because it offered me a self-paced course that I could take in 12 easily digestible weekly chunks.

And you know what?  Within two weeks I had dusted off Edge of Shadows and completely done a final edit thinking I was going to start querying agents. Then two weeks after that, I had a discussion my self, and decided that self-publishing was actually the best route for me and my work.

Less than a month later, my novel was available for readers everywhere, and I experienced the most significant feeling of accomplishment in my career EVER. Then I wrote a novella (the soon to be released The Soul Garden) and 50,000 words on another novel.

Are you kidding me?

In the 11 weeks that I’ve been working through my artist healing process, I have become the most prolific I have ever been.  I committed to doing my morning pages (basically a daily journal) and it has made a world of difference in helping me identify and plan out my goals.

If you are a struggling creative (this isn’t just for writers) than you NEED this book.  It’s going to challenge you but at the same time it’s going to help you see that you are not alone.  What you are feeling is normal and manageable.

And it will set you free.

Two enthusiastic thumbs up!!