Review Corner: The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen

I was fortunate enough to be the random winner of the extrinsic value prize of the October Platform Challenge (yay platchal peeps!), and I wish productive writerto share that good fortune by passing along The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen, a wonderful little book, to someone else that could use it. I have extensive notes and outlines of my own so that I can continue to use some of the parts I found most useful, as well. (Here is a post about how I used the information in this book myself)

Here’s one for you

3 P's of productivity.jpg


Each of these makes complete sense. The more productive I’ve been, the more I want to do, the more content I feel with working and the more I want to do; the more I define plan out my strategy, the more I get done. It’s a cycle that you have to start, by being productive.

One of the best places to start, of course, are your goals. Sage Cohen does a great job of, if not nailing what you might need to cover, getting you enough in the right direction to start thinking of any goals you may specifically have.

writing goals for the year.jpg

Sage Cohen also shows a way she breaks down these goals into some manageable ways to actually see progress. I definitely used this myself to structure my proposed plan that will be implemented soon enough. Here is what Cohen calls, slivering the slice:



One of the reasons I really like this approach is the flexibility within the structure. One great quote that I remember from The Productive Writer is “a groove traveled enough times has a tendency to become a rut”, which is a fabulous way to look at and remind us to shake things up occasionally. There’s no reason you can’t work some changes into your schedule to make sure you’re keeping your inspiration meter filled.

Here are four other ideas, wonderful words of wisdom or things to consider and to help the productive writer in you:

  1. One reason some of us end up not writing, not submitting, or in general moving forward is a fear that we don’t have enough experience or expertise to speak with authority. Well, guess what, someone else *is* going to submit their work, and they or may not have something as or more helpful to say than you, but if you don’t even try, you’ll never know. The only person saying you’re not enough right now, is you, and you have to write more to get better.
  2. If you don’t already, keep a file, folder, or some kind of list of ideas you have. I don’t know about you, but I keep a notebook with me at all times for little snippets of ideas that flit across my mind, you know, when I’m not trying to convince myself that I don’t need to write it down because I’ll remember it later (Lies!!) Cohen calls it an “acorn” file, I just have Word documents called jot list, junk jot list, article jot list, and children’s story jot list to differentiate between my varying ideas. It’s a great way to generate some ideas when you’re feeling stuck with writer’s block.
  3. “Validation is good, trust in yourself is better” is another idea straight from the book and it’s one to take to heart. As good as it can feel when people like and share things you’ve written (definitely celebrate!) but if you’re using that approval to hold up your belief in yourself, you will be crushed when someone writes something mean, and people will because that’s how some people unfortunately are. Believing in yourself does a lot more to get you through the hard times than validation ever would.
  4. Set realistic expectations, and deliver on them. Let me repeat that one again for some those that like to over plan and do ALL the things at once, you will go a lot farther when your expectations are reachable. Instead of seeing everything you haven’t done, with expectations you can meet you will always finish and feel that surge of pride you get from accomplishing something productive. This also keeps you from taking on more than you can chew, because you aren’t committing to anything you won’t be able to deliver on.


There are just a few of the great ideas and suggestions that Sage Cohen has in this book. In order to pass on something useful (and as I’ve made so many notes), I’m going to give away my copy of The Productive Writer. Details for how to enter are below:

  • You must be a resident of the US (or have a US shipping address).
  • Get one entry by commenting on this blog and sharing either some of the goals you want to commit to, or how some of these points have helped you so far.
  • Get another entry daily by posting about this Giveaway on Twitter BE SURE TO INCLUDE ME,@DMGbyrnes, IN YOUR TWEET SO I CAN COUNT IT!
  • Giveaway begins today, 12/27/2015
  • The Giveaway officially ends on Sunday 1/17/2016 at 11:59 pm EST.
  • A random winner will be selected and announced on Monday 1/18/2015 on Twitter and my blog.

***UPDATE, Winner Announced!***
Elizabeth EisenhauerPlease contact me with the address you would like me to ship your book to!

Thank you everyone that participated!


8 thoughts on “Review Corner: The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen

  1. “Validation is good, trust in yourself is better” really hit home with me. Some days I feel like I can’t go on without someone telling me that my work is good enough. On those days nothing, even copious praise, gets me back on track. The days I have faith in my work are the days I make real progress. I’d like to work on getting rid of my need for validation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really resonated with me as well. It’s amazing what confidence in yourself can do for you . I’m glad to hear you see this and want to make that effort, not everyone does. Thank you for commenting and best of luck with your work!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi DMG,

    Definitely SAGE advice…Ha Ha 🙂 Thanks for this awesome giveaway! I have been assembling what I refer to as my Writer’s Notebook (really need to complete this so it’s as useful as the thoughts behind it). In it are my favorite, as well as, new expressions and quotes, vocabulary I want to use or really like, a list of transitional words and phrases because I tend to reuse the same old same old, etc. and all are divided by tabs. I also have sections for my ongoing clients which contain their info., projects completed, projects to do, etc., a proposal section, ideas section, etc. One of my writer goals is to complete this notebook in January so I can put it to good use.

    I especially like the 3 P’s of Productivity with the description of Possibility really speaking volumes to me — we all need to remember that possibility is GREATNESS just waiting to shine from our efforts!! I also like how Sage breaks down tasks into small doable chunks as I tend to look at a long list and become overwhelmed which chisels away at my Pleasure, Possibility, and Prosperity!

    So, here’s to a Productive 2016 fellow wordsmiths 🙂 !!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, that sounds like quite a notebook! I keep a running list of my favorite quotes, with intentions of recording them in some beautiful journals I have in calligraphy..once I learn to properly do calligraphy.

      Indeed! It is exactly these measure chunks that are able to be quantified and conquered that really help with productivity. Sage’s examples to do this are incredibly helpful, as evidenced in my own proposed January work schedule. Thank you so much for commenting and good luck!!


  3. This is a great post DMG! Not that I want to win or anything 😉 But, your post makes me think that I may put this on my wish list, to purchase at a future date. (I have very long Amazon wish lists!)

    I think the hardest part for me is setting realistic expectations, sometimes I just go crazy, filling up every minute of my day. I know this doesn’t work, but for some reason, about four times a year, I write out an awesome and perfect plan. I think it’s a running joke that my unconsciousness mind likes to play on me, just to keep me on my toes! Thanks so much for reviewing and sharing The Productive Writer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, thank you, SK 😉 It was certainly useful and has a store of helpful tips. Someone just starting to put things together would benefit most from this, but anyone looking for help in shaping their own productive writing routine could find something of help in here I would say. (Don’t even get me started on Amazing wish lists, haha).
      You took the words out of my mouth. I’ve planned perfectly but it’s my own execution of it that derails me, mainly because I seem to believe I should be able to accomplish everything on a double sided list of writing related tasks. Ah life.
      Thank you so much for commenting SK!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I too hate resolutions. Instead, I have attended workshops where you find a word to guide your year (My word this year is “courage.”) and created vision boards.

    What I like about the information you have shared about this book is the way you have shown your schedule. I like that you have a bit of a different schedule on different days of the week. The inclusion of research, crafts, and reading in addition to writing as part of your daily schedule is a great way to break up your day.

    Right now, I am participating in the wordpress Blogging 101 course in an attempt to jump start my writing career. It seems to be working this time since I am working on all my blogs at the same time and on my off writing times I am still unpacking.

    Karna Tecla

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know a couple of other people that have mentioned the same or similar workshops and that have chosen “courage” as their word. It’s a great one to inspire you throughout the year, I’m sure.
      Thank you, I wanted to take into account the things I learned reading Big Magic when I tried to make my schedule.
      That’s great! best of luck with your blogging and career. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment!


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