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July 19, 2010


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Stephen Denny


As Robert McKee told us, "All first drafts are crap." Freewriting - or just getting the draft down on paper so the adult part of the brain can quickly take over - is a powerful way to break inertia for me.

One that I'd add to your list (it's on mine) is the benefit of mono-tasking. We've got too much to do and we sometimes think we need to do it all simultaneously. We don't. Getting something done from start to finish - even though email in pinging and Twitter awaits - is a Zen-like process worth cultivating.

Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to reading mlgd\!

Rob Leavitt

Thanks David -- all great points and helpful. Great reminder from Stephen as well; mono-tasking is key and a necessary complement to not procrastinating (which is one of my biggest problems!). The other thing for me is outlines; anything longer than a short blog post deserves a strong and detailed outline; the more time on the outline, the less time it takes to actually write the narrative. Anyway, keep cranking -- and I look forward to mlgd\ too!

Mark Levy

Thanks for mentioning me and “Accidental Genius,” David. I’m delighted freewriting has been such a help to you.

You really are one of the most adept practitioners of freewriting I’ve seen. We’re on the phone one day, you come up with an idea, and by the next day you’ve written a twenty page chapter on it.

I’m going back over this post to make sure I’m trying all the things you’re doing.

David Siteman Garland

When you love it, it is like a crank. When it feels like work, it is like a herd of turtles.

To give context: I've done 100 video interviews entrepreneurs this year, written a book out in December, currently in the midst of TV tapings, held monthly events in St. Louis for entrepreneurs, plus some speaking (and prepping for a wedding). Thank you coffee (just kidding...but seriously)

Here is the not-so-secret sauce: Focus on what you actually love to do and outsource or at least PLAN to outsource the rest.

Even if you can't swing it right now, at least getting in the mindset that you can get rid of it in the future is huge.

Just my .02 :)


You weren't kiddng that you were gonna blog this question! Great stuff. In fact, this might just have been the most thorough answer to any question I've ever asked anyone, ever. Love the post, and the tips. -Joe

David Meerman Scott

Joe -- You asked. I cranked an answer.

Stephen and Rob -- mon-tasking. Cool. Never heard that before.

David -- yes, outsourcing. I do that too. It probably should have been on my list.

Mark -- what can I say? Your freewriting ideas are essential to my work.

Linda VandeVrede

Good tips for productivity, for sure!
I had to do a major paradigm shift in my productivity habits when I developed tendonitis. I have to use voice recognition software now, which is not nearly as efficient as the typing I could do beforehand. But what I've found helpful is focusing on those times of day when I'm most alert - early morning and early evning - and on plane trips. While I can't use the voice software on plane trips (unless I get a cone of silence), I can take handwritten notes.


I often find myself having an idea or two out of the blue and if I decide to do something about it when it happens, then it usually turns into something great. If I happen to wait on the idea until I have more time however, I usually forget about it or procrastinate. Your point about not procrastinating is on point because if a person waits, they are bound to never get around to it. Anyone who runs their own marketing business or home based business should heed to your advice with that one.


Hi, David --

I get asked the same question all the time.

I chalk it up to ADHD. (I'm not kidding.) Sure, as a kid I was bouncing off the walls, but as an adult, I've been able to channel that into productive energy.

I also love what I do (writing a blog, authoring a book, speaking at events, consulting). So, like you, it's not really work -- it's fun!

Jamie Turner
The 60 Second Marketer


Thanks David...All good tips.

The one thing I do every day without fail is "Listen."

Whether that's listening to the viewpoints of other people, reading various materials, or simply looking around the internet - I Listen...

Listening gives me the spark to put everything else into action.

Thanks again...I needed the reminder today.


I agree strongly with the "free writing" strategy. It allows for all your thought to poor out in front of you without them getting lost or shuffled around inside your head.

Kathy Garolsky

Thanks for the good tips you shared.
Hoping to learn more from your upcoming articles..Thanks

Wendy Marx

Great post. One caveat though: You need to be prepared for the shock you'll experience with your first pass. The post reminds me of a story the humorist Calvin Trillin would tell about his first draft: Something on the order of if his maid every wanted to she could put him out of business by publicizing his first drafts.

Tom Nolan

How bizarre...was wondering myself how you produce so many posts and have time to write books etc and wam here's the answer...ahead of the game again David!

Srinivas Rao


I love all your tips. I'm somebody who has severe ADHD. But what I realized is that I could harness the power of that it. It turns out when you love what to you do, laser like focus becomes easy. I can often write 5 blog posts in 2 hours when I get into a flow state. I realized that people have natural states of flow or getting in the zone and if they do all their work during those zones they can be really productive. I also try to do almost all of my work early in the morning and only do admin stuff later in the day.


That is some really good points David. If you love what you do it keeps cranking. Inspired by you I just recently restarted my blog to improve my writing. I look for inspiration in happening news and also blog posts. And just write a draft without thinking just let the ideas flow. After that if it sounds good start putting some real examples together.

Travis Wals

Thank you for sharing your techniques and resources. As one who has recently found what he really loves to do, I have been trying to find my groove in staying efficient and cranking it out. I often get stuck in the writing process and try to edit too much while I am writing, which frequently ends with frustration and staring at a blinking cursor for a few minutes at a time. What a waste of time. So, I am definitely going to give the "Freewriting" technique a go and see if it can help me develop better content.


David Meerman Scott

Thanks to all of you for the comments on this post.

I'm sort of amazed at the reaction of this post. I didn't realize this would become a popular topic.

Joe asked me the question and I wrote him a quick answer via email. Then I spent about 10 minutes freewriting an answer as a possible blog post. I then cleaned it up, got the links and images, and posted.

Total time to create this post was less than a half hour.

Cool stuff. Thanks again.


Mark Levy

I read Travis's comment about getting stuck by writing and editing simultaneously. I've heard that problem referred to as task overload. That is, the writer asks their system to do more than it was designed to handle, and the system rebels by shutting down.

When I write, I’m careful not to try to do too much at once. I remind myself that writing is a two-step process, and that each step is independent of the other.

In step one, I focus on what I want to say. (The ideas.)

In step two, I concentrate on how to say it. (The style.)

I don’t know if I’m a better writer because of this two-step approach. But it makes me clearer and calmer.

David Meerman Scott

Great approach Mark. That's what I do too!

Lisa Sandbank

Thank you David for the book suggestion and to Rob for the outline reminder. Your article and comments couldn't have come at a better time for me.

Rachel Survil

Great comments here! What helps me most is to catch my ideas for possible blog posts before they float away. I carry a small moleskin journal with me wherever I go and jot down ideas that come to me in inconvenient places (traffic, or the like). I find that once it's written down, it simmers in the back of my mind until I can get to it.

Colin Warwick

At the end of the week I look in my email "Sent Items" folder and usually there's something blogable. Anything there has jumped three hurdles already: 1) Somebody had a question (so probably others have the same question) 2) That somebody thought I could answer it (so that indicates I might have something to contribute) 3) My answer is right there, so indeed I did come up with some sort of answer (so maybe it's worth sharing). (Of course I remove any personal stuff before posting publicly.) Hat tip: Mike Volpe

David Meerman Scott

Colin -- the "sent items" folder idea is brilliant. Thanks for that. I'm going to try it.

Peter Dunin

thanks for the great tips and advice!really enjoyed reading this article.

Kolb Learning Style

Thanks for sharing your tips, I'll be looking into text expander for me and a few friends.

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