This subject is rarely mentioned at all in writing books. Since writers tend to be disorganized, it tends to get in the way of their success. Disorganization can cause many setbacks, including not knowing what to do next, poor time management, and eventually accomplishing less than you could have if you were organized. We are all guilty of being disorganized to a degree, including me. There is hope, though; A professional organizer of over 20 years, named Regina Leeds, has several books filled with helpful information on getting organized. The 8-Minute Organizer is my favorite, since it takes advantage of small gaps of time in your life to create lasting habits. If you have a fair amount of time to create long lasting change, pick up her book One Year to an Organized Life, the most in depth manual for becoming more organized in all aspects of your life, permanently.
8 Minute Organizer by Regina Leeds
One Year to an Organized Life by Regina Leeds
I am not an organization expert, but I notice that when I slip in disorganization (almost weekly), I accomplish far less. Since I write humor and jokes, I have jokes on many different subjects in a journal, and if they aren’t organized into topic, I can never turn them into a monologue. If I never turn them into a monologue, I will receive less money for individual jokes. In the end, that can be hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars lost. I could have come up with a brilliant one-liner, but if it’s lost in a sea of mediocre ones, it is worth nothing. Also, since I do not derive my full income off of writing… yet (crosses fingers), it could prevent me from achieving a lasting career.
2. A Daily Writing Quota
I’ve been told that a daily writing quota in joke writing is probably the most important thing to achieving success. This doesn’t just apply to joke writing for humor in general. Stephen King said in On Writing that it is very important and something he does daily. I highly recommend this book, no matter what kind of writing you do. For a nonfiction or fiction writer, this is in the form of a word count. For a joke writer, this is just a number of jokes written, no matter what, every day. There is only one rule I go by when setting a quota: Do not start with a quota so hard that it discourages you from writing in the first place. The quota should not be too easy, either, because then you will not grow as a writer. The sweet spot is not too easy, not too hard, but still challenging. Once you make a permanent habit of writing for a quota, you have created one of the best habits for writing, because you are actually writing every day. A lot of people claim to be writers but don’t actually write.
On Writing: by Stephen King
3. Stopping Resistance
Stephen Pressfield, in The War of Art, describes this best when he labeled this as “resistance.” This “resistance” is when you let your subconscious, conscious, or your surroundings get in the way of what you want to accomplish. This could be getting yourself into financial trouble, being in an abusive relationship, or just falling prey to the latest smart phone game. If you’re letting these things get in the way of your writing, you will not be as successful as you could be. Mr. Pressfield’s solution for “resistance” is “going pro”, the idea that if one treats writing, or any other thing, as if you are already a professional, you will become a professional. It sounds simple, right? It is, but sometimes when we think of something as being simple, we don’t give it as much consideration as a complex issue. I think the books The War of Art and Turning Pro should be in everyone’s book collection because they attack the true reasons behind failure in writing, and in life.
4. Setting Writing Goals
First, I identify my goals by asking myself what I want to accomplish. Then I sit down and write at least 25 different actions for each goal to make it a reality. I split these actions up into major, moderate, and minor goals. Some of these goals take minutes to accomplish and some take a full year, if not several years. Many successful people plan out there lives a month in advance. Ideally, this is best, but at least one week at a time is necessary. If you know what you want to accomplish when you get in that disorganized mindset, where you do not know what to do next, this will help you to make that decision. Once you decide what you want, then you can find out what to do to make it happen. Remember, success is a war, not a battle; you may do things that you think will work that won’t. Success is connecting a large number of small victories to create a large one. The best example I can give is making a monologue. Creating a good monologue can be broken down into many small steps, including knowing what you want to say, dividing that topic into subtopics, and achieving a logical flow. One book I think all writers should read and listen to is The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale. This book talks about goals and working toward your life’s purpose.
5. Rewarding Yourself
This seems a little too obvious, as well, but people who push themselves to achieve success in writing, or otherwise, rarely reward themselves for the accomplishments they do make. If you want to develop the habits that you need to achieve a writing goal, the best way to do this is by rewarding your actions. This does not have to be a new car every year, or a weekly shopping spree. It can just be buying the latest novel that interests you or going out for an ice cream cone. It should be simple and something that you really like. You should also keep in mind why you are receiving this reward. Did you write that article this week that you are supposed to submit to a magazine? Did you finish that chapter in your book? Many writers will tell you that writing is the reward for writing, if this were 100% true, why wouldn’t professional writers write for free? Money is nice, but if you’re not to the stage where you’re being paid, a small gift to yourself is ideal.
About Will Loen
Will Koen is a comedy writer and performer who created willkoen.com to help fellow comedy writers. The site offers interviews with successful comedy writers, book reviews, and articles to increase the likelihood of success for comedy writers and performers. Will believes a successful comedy career begins not with funny material, but a foundation of skills like self-confidence, networking, and planning, which he believes can be mastered like anything that is focused on.
A portfolio of Will’s own writing can also be found at: