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Bob Mayer

The Productive Writer: an Interview with Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer

Bob Mayer knows a thing or two about being a productive writer. With over 50 published books, this NY Times bestselling author, former Green Beret and CEO has sold over four million books. His weblog is full of wonderful advice for writers and he hosts regular workshops “teaching writers how to be authors.” Mayer has made presentations for over a thousand organizations ranging from the Whidbey Island Writers to the CIA.

Mayer’s books include the two volume series, IT Doesn’t Just Happen: the Gift of Failure, which look at catastrophes and what we can learn about refusing to stay in a complacent mindset. Mayer talked to us about his days and introduced us to our favorite new term for fighting procrastination:

What’s your own daily routine like? What habits do you cultivate and what benefits do you find in them?

I don’t have a daily routine other than working every day. Roughly, I carve out writing time by turning off the Internet for chunks of time, which I use my cell phone to time. I do bursts of social media. I also have to run Cool Gus Publishing which takes more time than most people imagine. The biggest thing is to keep pushing forward and be consistent.

I do have a spreadsheet that I use to remind me to do all the things I have to do each day.

I also make time each day to work out, whether it be run with the dogs, go for a bike ride, or a walk with my wife. I find physical activity is very important. 80% of writers are said to have depression. I think getting outdoors and working out really helps with that.

Every evening, my wife and I, and Cool Gus & Sassy Becca, our two yellow labs, get in the king size bed and we watch whatever my wife tells me to watch. She’s always right. We study story and character in everything we watch; often we rewatch movies and series because in the second viewing you can really analyze what the writers did because you already know what’s going to happen.

The most common advice we hear about writing habits is simply to write every day. But what’s your best advice for overcoming procrastination and getting quality work out of your time spent writing?

Bum glue. Glue your bum to the chair and get it done. Shut down the internet. Get something down, regardless of how you feel about it. You can’t let yourself wait for “inspiration.” What you write when inspired and when depressed actually turns out to be pretty much the same thing.
It is a job, not a hobby. Treat it like a hobby and it will treat you back that way.

Are there any habits you’re trying to develop now? What motivated you to work on them?

I try not to multitask as much. Studies are showing that multitasking doesn’t work. I’m focusing on doing one thing at a time and doing it well. Then moving on to the next thing. To not keep thinking about the next thing or something else.

I mainly use my iPhone as a tape recorder. I record thoughts right away, even in bed, because if I don’t, I’ll forget them.

Who or what inspires you? Whose habits would you like to know more about and why?

Being able to write for a living is a great job. I value it, and thus I treat it like something to be valued.

I add a caveat to this question. Every writer has to work on their own process. I listen to others and analyze their process, but ultimately have to pick my own way. So does every other writer. We can get discouraged by listening to others. Find your own path!

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