The 7 Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Writer's Block Paperback – November 15, 2011
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The author clearly has a vast amount of experience in helping people with writer's block and other productivity problems. The book not only lays out a clear and comprehensive path for overcoming such problems, but it is also filled with literally hundreds of little tips to help you get and keep moving on your writing projects. It really helped me through a difficult fundraising proposal that I had been struggling with for a long time. --Reader review
This book is a must-have for any writer or entrepreneur's library. Hillary is an absolutely inspiring author, coach, and teacher on the subjects of procrastination, increasing productivity, and time management. Her work is well-known within circles of writers and activists throughout New England on improving your effectiveness. In this book, she codifies her best material and makes it accessible to a wider audience. Go out a grab a copy for yourself - and then grab copies for everyone on your team and anyone in your life that could benefit from this kind of insight. --Reader review
About the Author
My other major contribution has been to characterize perfectionism as a complex phenomenon consisting of (to date) eighteen symptoms, including grandiosity, shortsightedness, prioritizing product over process, and prioritizing external recognition and rewards over internal measures of success.
Finally, I ve been able to design solutions to both procrastination and perfectionism that are uniquely targeted and effective.
I have taught productivity and time-management classes at top writing, business, educational, arts, and community organizations; and my articles have appeared in Psychology Today, Huffington Post, Future Buzz, Time Management Ninja, Tomorrow s Professor, Authors Helping Authors, and numerous other publications.
On a personal note, I'm a vegan, free software advocate, and lover of life and dogs. I m also a former foster mom of four teenage Sudanese refugees (a.k.a., Lost Boys ), now all adult and living independently. And I m a living kidney donor. If you re a prospective vegan, free software advocate, foster parent, or kidney donor, email me and I will support you however I can. I also have an abiding interest in social justice my first book was The Lifelong Activist, a self-help guide for progressive and radical activists and it was from my activism that I gained insights on personal power that inform my current work.
When I was a kid, I mainly wanted to do two things: write and help. And I find that, as an adult, the more time I devote to these activities the happier I am. I m a classic late bloomer who didn t start coming into my own, professionally or personally, until I was well into my forties, and so I understand first-hand the despair that comes from feeling like you re not living up to your potential. But I now know what I didn t know then: that blocks are often easily overcome once you stop blaming yourself for being lazy or undisciplined and start looking for the real roots of the problem. And so, my main message to others is often, relax, it s gonna be fine.
I believe deeply in the power of perseverance, the amazing possibilities of reinvention, and the benefits of living consciously. Life can be difficult, but it is always deeply fascinating.
I was born in the Bronx, and now live in Kalamazoo, MI, after stints in Ithaca, New York City, and Boston. My partner is a physics professor at Kalamazoo College, and we have two rescue dogs, Billy and Petey.
The best thing you can do to support me and my work is post a review of one of my books on Amazon. Thank you in advance, and if you let me know you've done it I will be happy to thank you personally.
- Item Weight : 13.6 ounces
- Paperback : 257 pages
- ISBN-10 : 098364540X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0983645405
- Publisher : Infinite Art; 1st Edition (November 15, 2011)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,274,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I judge the book 4 starts for now, because I have not implemented her advice fully, and it scares me because it feels so counter-intuitive and paradoxical: I am facing a serious deadline and I have hard time imagining that doing 10-15 min a day of free nonperfectionistic writing to meeting that deadline (Hillary, if you read this, I think I know what you will say: "perfectionism, perfectionism in action!").
But I will try to implement her advice--because I am so desperate. And if it works, I will come back and update this review to 5 stars.
Feb 2016 - UPGRADING TO 5 stars: I am very glad to report that Hillary's method of non-perfectionistic writing is working very well. I have not met the above mentioned deadline, but following her advice for several months has freed to to write and think with much more productivity, and much less stress. I look forward to re-working through this book periodically (as my perfectionism is quite severe :-)).
Also, I wanted to note that I have now had the chance to interact with Hillary herself (via email and online writing class): not only has she thought about the problem of perfectionism deeply, but she also genuinely cares for the people who are afflicted by it. A rare combination. I recommend both the book, and working with Hillary in person, highly.
Rettig has written a compassionate manual for the blocked. This is not a silly how-to with writing prompts and stories about others who have succeeded. Or a list of ideas which MIGHT work. Nope. This book forces you to both analyze yourself and reconstruct your mindset.
It touches upon so many facets of the writer's life, while advising you and warning you through each facet. Everything seen in the light of perfectionism takes on a new hue. Sometimes this process is scary, sad, and enlightening.
If you have any type of creative block--whether in writing, painting, business, choreography, etc.--read this book. While it is certainly geared toward writers, the food for thought within will surprise you. Read this book if you want to move forward, through any block, while holding a better understanding of WHY you're blocked. And how the source of that block creeps up on you in EVERY AREA of your life!
Other books,often, keep you banging your head against the block until it cracks.
Rettig grants you a type of actionable psychological freedom. You will be impressed. I promise. Take it step by step, day by day.
Learn about procrastination in all its forms, about metaphorical invisibility and isolation, rejection, fear, mentors, pacing, self-publishing. And much more. You get more than your money's worth in this gem.
BUY IT. And good luck with your creative ventures! I, personally. feel great now.
In order to understand why we never finish anything, why we have a drawer full of beautiful first chapters, or why we 'just can't seem to find the time' we have to take a clinical look within.
Hillary Rettig helps us do that in an informative, kind and encouraging manner, and not only helps us identify the triggers to procrastination, but provides techniques to help us move past the very real obstacles we encounter.
I strongly recommend, if you have struggled with anything for more than a year, beat yourself up constantly over why you can't seem to complete a work and especially if you have read every craft book out there: sometimes the problem isn't the story. Sometimes the problem is y-o-u.
If you can face yourself objectively and are ready to roll up your sleeves, this book will offer some insights into what has caused certain behaviours, and what you can do about them. There is hope and there is help, so take heart my weary friend, and be prepared to move into the next successful phase of your writing.
I highly recommend this book to writers in any type of setting. The advice applies to those who write genre fiction, literary fiction, poetry, nonfiction, or academic work. I wish I had this book before starting my manuscript and when I was starting graduate school. Hillary speaks authoritatively to both worlds.
Great book and well worth returning to as needed.
Top reviews from other countries
I used to tell myself that I couldn't possibly be a perfectionist, since all my work is far from perfect (oh the irony of that statement). Now I observe myself when I'm showing procrastinatory behaviour, drag out the timer and tell myself 'just ten minutes'. Furthermore, if ten minutes is all I managed then I congratulate myself on having done more than on the days I did none. In actual fact, it didn't take long before I was overunning the timer and getting swept up in my work again.
The other imortant take home for me was learning how to draft properly. I especially like the attitude that if you set out to do ten minutes, then that is writing time - not pondering or research time. If you must ponder then do it on paper in the thing you are trying to write - let that be your first draft. I previously never used to write more than one or two drafts, and it was painful and slow. Now I am quite happy to write as many drafts as it takes, don't ever feel bogged down, and if I do hit a snag... well, I won't spoil the book for you - there are plenty of enlightening things you can read about in the later chapters that give you plenty of options to work around the book.
A minor criticism aimed at any technical readers is that the book does lean towards catering for the creative author type. While Rettig does frequently address other academic readers, the bias is there but was not a problem for me. I found the perspective refreshing and was easily able to transpose my technical engineering needs while reading.
Another thing is that the book has a definite feminine touch, but I quite enjoyed that. Looking at the list of self-help options i have already tried, they are all male-written, I don't know if that means anything or not and it did not play a conscious part of my decision making process, but certainly I think it is a positive in my experience.
If nothing else, this book has helped me become more comfortable with who I am (I do not exaggerate), and I have a much calmer approach to problems - in work and personal life - that I encounter.
After years of procrastination I finally have the correct tools to deal with the problem. They are simple but powerful and few hard core procrastinators would arrive at them unaided. (How Rettig did is a beguiling mystery.) In short she argues that all procrastination has at root perfectionism. She covers the sub-sections of this: idleness, fear, distraction and so on, but all lead back to the original false demand on oneself that a first attempt must be of a certain standard or it is a failure. Rettig unpicks this attitude and replaces it with such compassionate logic and warmth. She gives clear, powerful and very easy to follow instructions on how to overcome this attitude.
If you stall or feel blocked as a writer buy this book now. Don't put it off. It will be the best investment you have ever made in your career. Even for those whose work flows, it is a really useful tool. I recommended it to a prolific writer recently because her work ethic doesn't allow for much time off. Rettig argues that we must pay attention to our other needs, particularly that of sociable fellowship with other writers. I've ditched the guilt since reading this and the writing week feels better planned and is more productive than ever.
I've read books on how to increase creative productivity by other leading writers, and this one is, in my mind, in a league of its own: Hillary Rettig explores the full complexity of the issue and makes her solutions as simple as possible; no poetic diversions or metaphors (eg. I have one creativity guidebook which recommends holding a hot baked potato as a way of learning to relate to one's work). The book focusses on the art of writing, but is equally applicable to other creative activities, and there is a chapter on academic writing which provides much-needed support to students who are struggling with their dissertations. My own work has already started to develop since reading this book and beginning to experiment with just one or two of its ideas. Invaluable!
*Update: delighted to see that the book is now available as a paperback. Not cheap, but I've made an order!
The funny thing is that the book needs a little bit of the perfectionism that the author rails against. It would benefit from a good edit to shorten the explanations and take out the bits that are unnecessary or repetitive. It also wouldn't hurt if the author recognised that some problems have more than one possible solution.