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It’s a myth that only highly intelligent geniuses are successful writers.

Writing – like any other craft – requires dedication, persistence and a dash of luck. Anyone can do it – whether it’s writing copy for an ad or your most recent business report – by leveraging their skills and creativity.

So why is it so difficult to be productive?

Many writers struggle with bad habits that cripple productivity and the success of the final product. The good news is that these habits can be broken with only a little bit of work.

Here’s 5 bad habits that could be hurting your writing:

1. Fearing that you’ll fail: Lots of writers let the fear of “getting it wrong” keep them from ever writing the first word. You’re going to make mistakes, but you’ll learn from these mistakes and be one step closer to success (easier said than done, but true). When you let fear keep you from writing, you’ll never improve.

Gain confidence by writing a list of why you are knowledgeable and capable of writing about the specific subject. You don’t have to be the top expert to make a valuable contribution, so don’t let this fear keep you from starting your writing.

2. Poor organization: Many writing projects have lots of information and research that must be distilled and packaged in a useful way. Before starting any writing project, make sure you understand the project’s goals and concepts, because poor organization crushes productivity quickly.

Condense the research, take notes or create a mind-map of the information. Staying organized is challenging, so try different strategies and techniques to find what works best for you.

3. Working on one project for too long: Focusing on one thing at a time boosts productivity. If you are struggling to gain traction on a project, however, switch to another project. This prevents writer’s block and keeps you from loosing motivation. Plus, while your attentions are focused elsewhere, your mind will work through problems subconsciously. You’ll return to the project renewed and more productive than before!

4. Judging your work too quickly: Many writers critique and edit their work while they are writing, making the process much longer in the end. Spend time just writing. Simply hit the keys. Don’t edit. Don’t analyze. Don’t judge.

I struggle to break this bad habit, but find that when I focus solely on writing, the final product is more cohesive and creative!

5. Not taking the time to find your voice: Knowing and understanding your voice as a writer is vital. In creative writing, this makes your writing strong and unique. In business writing, it makes your writing authentic, inspiring trust and engagement.

Take the time to sketch out why a writing project is important to you, your connection to the goal and why you are the ideal writer. Next, determine the tone you’ll use – formal, conversational, peppy or humorous. With a clear style in mind and a dedication to the topic, your voice will shine.

Do you have any tips for breaking these bad habits? Are there any other bad habits that keep you from writing productively?

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