The first week of the New Year ends today. . . .wait, didn’t you make a resolution to write more in 2014? If you already feel like your writing resolutions may not make it another 51 weeks, follow these 4 tricks to become a writer who writes.
1. Create an internet-free work space
Make your writing time separate from blogging, tweeting, and researching. You may be surprised at all of the “productive” tasks, like renewing library books online, you will suddenly feel compelled to do instead of write. Create your internet-free zone by:
- clicking the Turn Wi-Fi Off button when on your laptop.
- taking internet browser icons off your task bar, and thus making yourself jump through a few hoops before mindlessly browsing.
- using the full screen mode of your word processor.
- leaving your cellphone in a different room.
2. Follow the Butt-in-Chair Rule
A lot of being writer is just showing up, day after day, whether you feel like it or not. In other words, you need to get your butt in the chair (hence the name). When you tell yourself you don’t have to write, but you can’t do anything else for the allotted time either, eventually some words get down on the page.
- My secret to productivity is this “time timer.” Unlike a regular kitchen timer, it’s silent. No drive-you-batty tick-tock. (I felt like a sucker buying this plastic thing for $20, but it’s become my crutch: as soon as I set the red dial, it’s go time.)
- If you prefer something cheaper (i.e. free!), I like the Stone Hill Time Card app which lets you see a little pie chart of time spent on tasks you log.
3. Schedule your writing time an hour before you usually get up
Just because it’s a New Year, you might not magically find tons of spare time to write. Instead, you need to MAKE the time.
- Set your alarm clock for an hour earlier and write. That way, nothing can “suddenly come up” during the day that eats up your writing time. Plus, you’ll walk around with a spring in your step knowing you’ve already accomplished something.
- If you absolutely are too brain-dead in the morning to be creative, schedule yourself an hour of writing time in the evening, and get up an hour earlier anyway. During your extra hour of zombie-morning time, take care of anything that has the potential to become an excuse not to write later: chop vegetables for dinner, do the laundry, clean the litter box…
4. Lean on others for structure
The more accountability you can add to your daily routine, the less likely you are to abandon it on a whim. I’m doing both of the programs below, and I love the pre-set structure of having an action to complete everyday. I find it’s easier to tackle an assignment than rely on willpower alone to get writing done.
- Join Jeff Goins’ free 31-day challenge to write 500 words everyday this month. Who cares if you missed a few days, just jump on in! It’s fun to follow the other participants’ progress on twitter at #my500words. (And I got the good idea to get up earlier from Jeff, too)
- Download Wake Up: 31 Days and Actions to Take Charge of Your Life from No Meat Athlete. (Yes, this is an unsolicited plug to my brother’s book, but not an affiliate link.) You can start anytime, and it all begins with a simple anchor habit that triggers more and more positive changes. I’ve made my anchor habit writing first thing in the morning, which I trigger by making it as easy as possible to roll out of bed: the night before I review my previous morning’s writing so that I go to bed thinking about my work and let the gears churn overnight. So far so good!
I hope you find my four tricks helpful. I’ll leave you with this inspirational/habit quote from The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron:
Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.
Please share any writing, creativity, or productivity habits that work for you– I’d love to compare notes!