Many writers complain that they don't have enough time for writing. If only they weren't working full time and have family commitments, they would surely be writing more. Well, that's wishful thinking. The grass is always greener on the other side.
Time Isn't the Missing IngredientIf you meet a full-time writer working independently, don't be surprised if he or she complains that she can't get enough done although the hours are there.
Being a full-time writer for over two decades I say that time is not the only factor that decides whether you write productively or not.
Many a day, I'd started out to write as much as I could but ended up with a meager word count or worse, a blank page. Time just flies past miraculously. Before you know it, you're tired and frustrated. Yes, tired although you've not done anything much.
If you often find yourself in the same boat, here's a simple trick to help you get the most out of your writing day.
Set Out With a GoalHow do start your writing day? Do you start telling yourself you'll write something or continue writing what you've started.
If you do, then don't be surprised if you don't anything much at all at the end of the writing day. It's because you have a vague writing goal.
Be SpecificYour goal must be specific - write and finish Chapter 2 in two hours. How about that?
Setting specific goals is a scary thing to do. It calls for what you think is beyond you, what's outside your comfort zone. It's not beyond you. You think it's beyond you because you haven't done it before. So what? What's the harm in trying. Are you trying to become a better writer without trying something that challenges you?
Setting specific goals will focus your mind on the task and get you to accomplish what you set out to do. But specific goals alone aren't enough.
Why You Should Meet the GoalIf you decide to accomplish writing Chapter 2 in two hours, you must give yourself a very good reason for doing so. What reason could you give yourself?
What if you tell yourself, "If I don't finish Chapter 2 in two hours I'll not meet my goal of finishing the whole book by this weekend."
Have the larger goal on the radar to give you the momentum to achieve the immediate goal before you. More often than not we lose sight of the larger goal once when we are wrapped up in a short-term goal before us.
So, the trick is always to keep sight of the larger goal and remind yourself of it as often as possible.
What if you say to yourself you have to complete the book by this weekend to stay on track to meet the goal of publishing ten books by the end of the year? Would there be more immediacy to your actions?
Most probably yes. You're reminded of something that you truly believe in, something you won't easily give up. Suddenly, you're raring to go, if the ultimate goal really matters to you.
Time to Set GoalAlright, you're game to set a specific writing goal. When do you set it? You can set it anytime as long as it is not a few minutes before you sit down to write.
If you work with a writing schedule planned in advance and which you constantly review to make it top of mind, then you're on the right track. If you don't feel like planning way in advance, then you can do it a day before you sit down to write.
The best time to do this is the night before. Before you go to bed, take a few minutes to plan the writing task you'll be handling the next day.
I write it down on an index card - 5.00am to 5.30am - finish writing scene 3 of the Mystery of the Missing Rotten Apple
5.30am to 6.30am - Write Chapter 1 of the Writing Skills Ebook
Once you've put your writing target down, spend a few more minutes actually seeing yourself doing it. Most importantly see yourself finishing task one and then moving on to task 2.
I find this to be the best way of gearing up for the next writing day. In a way, you're telling your subconscious mind to help you do what you have programmed into it.
At most this exercise will not take you more than ten minutes. Do it when you've nothing else to do for the day before you go to bed.
Tough GoingIf you're implementing this practice for the first time, you'll find the going tough for the first few days. Visualising a future action doesn't come easily to everyone. But keep on with it and you'll be mentally prepared to work towards your goal.
Forcing yourself to have a specific writing goal can be a painful thing if you're used to enjoying freedom in your writing - writing what and when you want.
Unless you're writing for fun, adopting this approach will see you enjoying improved writing productivity.
So, bite the bullet and set a concrete writing goal for the next day.