The Sussman Productivity Method

Melanie Bishop

I’ve seen so many different productivity methods discussed over the years: The Pomodoro Technique, GTD (Getting Things Done), The Action Method. And then there are hosts of articles about different productivity styles. As for myself, I use a very simple Evernote list method that requires no explanation other than: It’s a to-do list organized by date.

Over at Glimmer Train, Melanie Bishop shares a method that works for her that I admire for its directness and mindfulness: For every 45 minutes that you write, do 15 minutes of something else. But there’s one catch:

The something else should not be word-related, should not involve the internet or checking your email, for instance. It should be something mindless, a task you can do while having the page with which you just parted ways still present in your head.

She calls this the Sussman method, after an article by a writer of the same name. Bishop goes on to discuss how the method has worked for her, and the importance of camaraderie during the writing process—even camaraderie at a distance.

For more from Glimmer Train this month, see:


Posted in Creativity + Inspiration and tagged , , .

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

Join the conversation

6 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
4 Comment authors
adriantannockjrobertmapsonFriday Roundup 12.4.15 | Michiko KatsuDeb AtwoodRochelle Melander (@WriteNowCoach) Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

newest oldest most voted
Notify of

[…] For every 45 minutes that you write, do 15 minutes of something else. But there's one catch.  […]

Rochelle Melander (@WriteNowCoach)

I talked about this process in my book Write-A-Thon (WD, 2011), encouraging writers to break up writing sessions with time doing repetitive actions (like washing dishes or walking). The technique is also written about in the book. The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.

Deb Atwood

I absolutely love this idea. My writing group has been floundering lately–bogged down with chatter–so I’m going to propose this activity for the next meeting. Thanks for the post!


[…] The Sussman Productivity Method […]


Or, as Agatha Christie famously opined: ‘The best time to plan a book is while you’re doing the dishes.’


Really interesting. I write in 52 minute blocks, with 17 minute breaks in between. It’s a similar idea – and the importance of stepping away from the computer and focusing your eyes elsewhere cannot be overstated. Your break has to be a real break! Thanks for posting this interesting article.