Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Increase Writing Productivity with Friction

Photo credit:

In her 2019 book, Good Habits, Bag Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes Stick, social psychologist Wendy Wood discussed how she used experience sampling to discover that 43% of our daily actions are habitual. Wood believes that the key to changing habits is to modify our environment to create or remove "friction," which makes the old way of doing things less desirable than the new way. 

So, how could that work in our writing world? 

Example One: Remove friction by focusing on writing.

You sit down for 30 minutes to write. You come to a place in the chapter where you must describe a clothing item from the 1900s, but you need a visual aid.

Old Habit: Hop on the internet and research that item.

You look up half an hour later, because you know we often get lost in research, and notice you've used all your writing time.

New Habit: Type a reminder of what you need to research inside a set of brackets and highlight it so you can find it easier when you have time for research. 

Example Two: Remove friction by reducing distractions.  

You get up an hour early to write before the kids get up. 

Old Habit: Sit down at your desk and quickly check your email (so that is out of the way for later). 

Checking email then leads to looking at your notifications, checking the weather, etc. By the time you finish up, you hear the little one across the hall stirring, so writing time is done. 

New Habit: Take a pad and paper or a device in airplane mode to a quiet spot and use a timer so you write until you hear the chime. 

Example Three: Create friction by making it harder to snack so it doesn't reduce your energy levels.

Since you enjoy snacking while you write, you have some snacks on the nearby filing cabinet. 

Old Habit: Snack while writing and soon notice your energy levels waning.

New Habit: Keep snacks out of your writing space and write using a timer or by setting a specific word count so you don't snack until you're done.

What are some ways you can create or remove friction in your environment to increase productivity?

Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and award-winning editor. She is the author of four children’s books including, A Christmas Kindness, released by 4RV Publishing. A blogger and book reviewer, she is a member of SCBWI and lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three adult children. Visit Cheryl's website at or her children’s book blog at

No comments:

Post a Comment