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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
–Write before you accomplish other important priorities. This strategy is more compelling than holding out for a reward. Click To Tweet
- 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 …