5 Strategies for Writing Every Day 8

You love writing. And because you love writing, it’s your top priority, something you do every day no matter what (or who) else tries to get in the way. Right?

If you’re like me, probably not. Because there’s a lot that gets in the way: a job, a commute, and responsibilities like taking care of children, keeping the house clean, and canning the four gallons of tomatoes you just picked off one tomato plant. And then there’s the all important work of building a writing platform: blogging, FaceBooking (it’s now a verb), tweeting, and chirping. Just thinking about it all can become overwhelming. Top that off with an inner saboteur who loves to distract you with some previously unplanned project, such as gluing down all the nicknacks in the house just in case there’s another earthquake, and writing — your journaling and creative writing — just kinda starts to take a back seat.

Oh, the guilt!

Not anymore. I have developed and wish to share with you the following 5 strategies to ensure that I place my rear seat in the chair seat and write — every day.

  1. Schedule the time. I know you already know this strategy and have read it many times in many writing magazines and blogs, but the real question is: Have you actually done it?  Have you actually written down the time on your calendar, just as you would any other appointment, complete with an alarm that notifies you 15 minutes before your appointment is scheduled to start? Scheduling the time — whether it’s the same time every day or a different time depending upon your commitments for that day — is the first, and most crucial, step to success.

    Don’t think you have time to write? Read on.
  2. Make it small. Schedule only 20-30 minutes per day. That’s it. Just 20 minutes out of your entire day. You can schedule your writing time before you leave for work in the morning (get up 30 minutes early because you’ll need 10 minutes just to shake the fog from your brain), or 20 minutes during lunchtime, or 20 minutes after the kids have gone to sleep and before you watch TV at night. When you start to write, set an alarm for 20 minutes, and when it rings, stop. This part of the strategy guarantees that you will never feel as though you’ve had enough time to write and will keep you hungry for more.

    Of course, if you’re one of those retired people or highly paid authors who have blocks of hours every day in which to write — well then can I just say that I’m extremely jealous?  Seriously, if you have more time to write, and you want to schedule it into your calendar, then do so. Just make sure it’s small enough to stick to and continue to follow the rest of these strategies.
  3. Block out the rest of the world. Some people can block out the world in a noisy coffee shop. Others, like me, have a home office that works. Whatever works for you, keep your scheduled time as sacrosanct. No Internet. No Facebook. No Twitter. No sneak peek at your email. In fact, turn off your WiFi or unplug your Internet (or use one of the many Internet blocking apps out there, such as Freedom for the Mac). You’ll be happy you did.
  4. Make yourself write before you accomplish other important priorities. This strategy is more compelling than holding out for a reward and turns the table on those high priority responsibilities. Here’s my personal example: Because I have had periods of time in which my back caused so much pain I was unable to walk more than a block at a time, my ability to move and to exercise is extremely important to me. One of my top priorities every day is to exercise, even if it’s only a 30-minute walk or gentle yoga exercises. Another top priority is to check and respond to my personal email. In order to “reward” myself with exercise or checking email, I have to complete my 20 minutes of scheduled writing. The net effect is that I am more motivated to write.
    [bctt tweet=”Write before you accomplish other important priorities. This strategy is more compelling than holding out for a reward.” username=”writingthrulife”]
  5. Acknowledge yourself for sticking with your schedule. This final strategy is important. We writers are notorious for being perfectionists and self-critical. If you put your rear end in your chair and wrote for your scheduled 20 minutes — even if all you did was stare at the screen for 20 minutes — congratulate yourself. And have that glass of wine or bowl of Häagen-Dazs ice cream. You deserve it!

Rinse and repeat. Daily.

Do you write every day? If other strategies work for you, what are they? By all means, share …

Photo Credit: mezone via Compfight cc


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8 thoughts on “5 Strategies for Writing Every Day

  • patsy ann taylor

    Love these ideas for making time to write. And as writers we should be active in working our craft.
    There is another side to writing I think should be addressed. As writers, we should also be voracious readers. Making time to read is vital to growing as a writer. I try to balance my time to include generous helpings of both.

  • Sara Etgen-Baker

    I’d have to agree that scheduling the time is important. And–once the time has been scheduled–I’ve found it’s important to follow through with that commitment. Staying committed says something to the psyche.

    I lead a busy and somewhat fragmented life. So, what’s helped me is planning my writing time. Every Sunday evening my husband and I sit down together and converse about the week ahead. We schedule our writing times, workout times, etc., around the things that we don’t have control over–like work, volunteer work, and errands. By communicating with each other, we don’t surprise one another with the phrase, “Today is my writing day.” We know in advance and help one another meet the commitment.

    For instance, on days when I’m writing, he agrees to take care of laundry, preparing meals, and lawn care. I do the same for him on the days when he’s writing. Doing so eliminates the likelihood of distractions.

    Our system works for us–but we worked for a couple of years to refine our process where we’re in sync. 🙂

    • Amber Lea Starfire

      Sara, it sounds as though you have a wonderful writing partnership! And you make some very good points. Sticking with that commitment says to the psyche that writing is important, and it allows you to place your expressive work in the high priority realm.

      Also, it’s a great idea to do a weekly planning session, to set out not only the scheduling but the writing plan as well — to have an idea what research, topics, or scenes you want to work on the following week. Focusing in this way can improve productivity.

      Thank you for sharing your methods and adding to the conversation.

  • Barbara Toboni

    I’d have to say that my problem is I schedule a block of time that’s too big for my schedule. I think I can write for 2 or 3 hours. This week I used my cell phone and set the timer for 20 minutes. I worked for 30 to 40 minutes which was a bonus. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it all. Thanks for the tips, Amber. They’re all helpful.

    • Amber Lea Starfire

      Barbara, that’s what I found, too … I was expecting too much of myself. And, like you, when I plan for less time yet manage to write for a longer period, I feel good about it. I’m glad my suggestions helped! :-).