Lessons learned – Whaley’s Positively Productive Writer

This week I’ve been reading ‘The Positively Productive Writer’ by Simon Whaley. It focuses on the writing lifestyle and keeping yourself on track, rather than writing technique. I think it’s a reflection of how much I’ve already learned, rather than the quality of the book, that I didn’t learn much new from it.

There were some useful bits and pieces. It helped to sharpen my focus on some things I was already considering, like creating a writing CV and using more smart goals. But it was mostly full of the sort of sensible advice that crops up in any writing book, podcast or interview – carry notebooks everywhere, practice every day, go for walks, and so on. If I’d read this when I started writing, I might have learned a lot in a concise, easily digestible way. But after this long, not so much.

What it has helped me with is putting a positive spin on how I think about writing. Some of Whaley’s advice wanders into the realm of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for writers, and he says as much. While I’ve had some recent experience with CBT, it hadn’t occured to me to deliberately apply it to my writing life. But even a simple exercise from the book, writing down a list of my writing achievements, helped me feel good about my writing and so motivated to do more.

Having started this post thinking about how little I got from the book, I find I’ve talked myself round to a more positive view. I may not have learned any new techniques from it, but it’s made me feel more like writing, and that alone made it worth reading.