The Secret to Productivity

Posted Nov 9 2015, 1:06 pm in , ,

gogoAs I was preparing a bio for an upcoming speaking engagement, I realized that, since my first New York-published book came out in 2013, I’d published more books than I’d realized. In fact, over a 2 1/2 year period, I’d published 10 novels and two novellas–from Maid of Secrets by Simon & Schuster BFYR (my debut!) to Wilde Card, the third work in my Immortal Vegas indie-published Urban Fantasy series, out this month. 

That’s a lot of books. And a lot of pen names – 4 titles by Jennifer McGowan (YA), 5 titles by Jennifer Chance (NA romance), 3 titles by Jenn Stark (UF). However, what’s really crazy to me is there are folks out there who’ve published several times that number of books in the same time period! Talk about productive!

I’m asked from time to time about my writing schedule, but honestly, I’ve found that the secret to productivity has nothing to do with how much you write on a given day or how busy you are. I’m pretty productive, and I do work multiple jobs, but I’ve been put to shame by authors who not only manage writing but a family and active work or volunteer schedule as well. They’re writing far more quickly than I am, to the point where I just can’t even understand how they can put out so many books in a given year. 

So what’s the secret? It’s the answer to a simple question: 

How much do you want to achieve your goal? No, really, how much?

  • In the case of writing production, how important is it to you to make a living as an author – as an author alone, not in conjunction with any other income? 
  • In the case of awards and accolades, how badly do you want that recognition?
  • In the case of weight loss or gain, how important is it that you hit that goal weight?
  • In the case of sports achievement, how badly do you really want to win?
  • In the case of career, how much do you really want that job? Or to change industries? Or to get that promotion?
  • In the case of money, how important is it for you to reach your first $10,000? Your first million?

No matter what your category of pursuit, from health & fitness, to writing, to sports or career or money, your productivity will take a significant leap forward when you can honestly say without apology that achieving your stated goal takes precedence over everything else – except those activities you must do to maintain the baseline of your current life. In other words, if you’re working a day job, no matter HOW MUCH you want to be a full-time author, you still have to work the day job until you can afford to take the leap. That’s just reality. If you have a family, you still have to perform a certain amount of family-supporting tasks, assuming you don’t want your spouse and children to revolt. 


The rest of the time, your mind, your heart, and your hands are at work on the achievement of your Big Goal. You think about it, work on it in a focused way every chance you get, and you learn how to improve your odds of reaching it. If you’re a writer, you could study craft or business elements of a writing career. If you’re a runner, you could learn about the mechanics of motion and better nutrition on race day. If you’re an entrepreneur, you could study case histories of successful start-ups. 

Most importantly, however, you do the work. Day in, day out. Whether you’re sick, or in pain, or buried in other work, you find a way. Because you want to achieve your goal that badly. You desire it so much that it’s your driving force, the thing that gets you up in the morning and drives you to bed at night so you can be ready for the next day. 

You want it more than anything, so you do what it takes. 

The rest…is just scheduling. And probably office supplies. Because office supplies make everything better.

So, what about you? What’s your Big Goal? And how much do you want it? 

Go out and get that goal today. 

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