You’ve heard it enough, yet I’m telling you one more time. If you want to be a writer, then write. Sit your butt down in a chair, away from the television and start pounding the keyboard. You don’t type out your rough drafts you say? Then whip out a pen and notebook and get to work. (Though you had me there, didn’t you.)
My reflection said this to me this morning, as I brushed my teeth. The first 30 days of the year has passed by and I have done less writing than I wanted. I know where I have fallen short, but knowing the causes for decreased productivity and doing something about it are two different things. Here’s the plan I’m executing, though your mileage may vary:
- Disconnect from the net: My house stays wired to the internet. Originally, it’s for allowing the computers to communicate with our server. (Yes, I have a file server at home.) Now, it’s become instant access to email, social networking and the occasional online game. Setting “blackout” periods through my router to my computers keeps the computers off the net, while still allowing them local access to the server data. Don’t feel like messing around with the settings in your router? Just turn off your internet connection until you’re finished your writing for the day.
- Turn off the cellphone: I’m the paranoid type who thinks if I turn off my cell phone, the world is going to explode. Begrudgingly, I turned it off this morning. I’m still typing and the world is still here. If any emergencies arise, the house phone is still on. There are other folks around me, who will answer that phone, while I focus on writing.
- Eat before you write: Eating before you write keeps me focused on writing, than on being hungry. I’ll have less chance of snacking while I write, which cuts down on the unnecessary calories. If I write for a long stretch, I’ll stop at a good place to continue, then grab a bite to eat. When I satisfied the hunger, I am back at my desk with more energy. Be careful not to overeat, though. You don’t want to find yourself napping at the desk.
- Take short breaks while writing: Sometimes I write and when I look up four hours went by. While that’s great, I usually start to feel overwhelmed by the project. I try to take short 10-minute breaks for every hour I write. It recharges my mind and gives me a moment to stretch and check in with the world. During these breaks, I’ll check my Facebook or send out a Tweet. I’ve even been able to get in some quality gaming using a timer to send me back to the keyboard when it’s time to return.
- When it’s time to quit, then quit: There’s been plenty of times where I just keep writing because things are getting to good to just stop. You know what? That’s the perfect time to stop. While my official writing time is over, I can still think about what’s going on, jot down notes here and there and have a great starting point when I return to the keyboard.
Using these techniques has been a boon for my writing. I find that I am blogging more, have more time to work on my writing projects and even have time to enjoy things like spending time with the family, reading and connecting with friends. I hope to continue applying these techniques throughout the week to help bolster my productivity there. Who knows, I might be able to get these books written sooner, rather than later.