I am the last person you would expect to see this post written by. But as a writer who can have a hard time staying focused, writes or participates in four blogs, tries to stay on top of social media, chores around the house, the last minute substitute jobs and squeeze in half a dozen book reviews a month, I might have a few suggestions.
I might not have kids, but I have enough to replace them. Ha! Someday this list of activities is going to need to be scaled back, but until then…
Here are a few suggestions (10 to be exact), but please know they aren’t mutually exclusive and you might find that NONE of them work, but you won’t know something unless you try, which brings me to number one…
1) You won’t know something unless you try
You won’t know if you can write a 1000 words in a day or edit for hours on end until you TRY. The best way to figure out what works is to just do it. If it doesn’t, maybe you will figure out what WILL work. Trial and error.
2) For the times you work, turn off all social media
During those times, no matter how long or short, turn off the social media. For me I exit out of Tweetdeck. It automatically loads a new tweet when it comes through, so I often get rid of it. I do leave the internet connected, because I’m weird and like the chocolate in the freezer, if it’s there I don’t want it.
3) Set time constraints
I literally work in 15 minute increments. I set the timer, don’t TOUCH my email during that time and edit for 15 minutes solid. I can easily be distracted when I’m editing, and this FORCES me to keep my tail in the chair and work. 15 minutes is an easy goal for me to reach and when I reach it, I give myself a little reward.
4) And no, it isn’t chocolate…
When those 15 minutes are up, I can then check my emails or blogger feed. I have set a goal for myself to get my WIP edited by the ACFW conference. At the pace I am at, that means I need to be editing at least three pages a day or more, five days a week. Which means my blogging day (Friday) has been taken over to do my edits. So during those moments between 15 minute sessions, you’ll most often find me blogging. I take a few minutes and write a post, start one or answer a comment. I have over two weeks scheduled for OEA and almost all of next week done for my personal blog. Keep these breaks realistic. 5-10 minutes at the MOST. Otherwise you can get carried away.
5) Set a writing time
This one might be harder for many moms and working writers to put into action, but I bet if you look, it’s not as hard as you think. I write everyday (or rather work on my computer) from 7:30 in the morning until about 2 in the afternoon. I blog, check my social sites a couple times and work on my writing. I try to stay off of Facebook as much as I can during that time. During blogging, I keep my time short, though I don’t view it as detrimental to my writing time as Facebook. If it starts infringing, it’s back to the bottom of the list.
6) Work in short sequences of time
This pretty much goes hand in hand with the 15 minute session tip. If you can’t find a few minutes during the day to sit and WRITE, then have the computer out in the open and give yourself permission to scribble something as you walk by. If you are going to be serious about this, then you have to be willing to write on the go. We don’t always get the perfect sit down and write time we want.
7) Set priorities
What is your goal for today? Write 500 words? Edit a page? Then make sure you do it. Because if you get too far behind on your goal, then you will be even LESS motivated to work on it the next day. No one expects you to answer an email the minute you get it. Your fiction is more important and if you have 15 minutes to work, don’t spend it checking email.
8) Keep moving
During those periods of writing, keep moving. Every hour or so stand up, move around and keep the blood moving. You are more prone to want to work longer if you take a few breaks to move around. So start the laundry and then power walk back to the computer. ;-)
9) When life happens…write anyway!
Picture this…I have a perfect day of writing planned. Then the phone rings and someone is sick and I need to sub. First...THANK GOD for the work, then…oh BEHIND ON WRITING. Some days are not going to be writing days and you have to give yourself permission to accept that. But don’t give a flimsy excuse that this will just have to be a “no writing” day. And if it is a “no writing” day, then hope you get a good day in tomorrow. If you can legitimately scrounge up even an ounce of energy to work, you need to do it. Develops good stamina for a deadline someday. ;-)
10) To avoid spending those 15 minutes staring at the screen…
Have a few notes from the previous day on what you wanted to work on today. When I start my edits, I go back and read what I changed the day before (usually five or so pages.) Fix spelling errors, awkward sentences and keep going. You’ll be on a roll. Chances are you will spot mistakes from the day before. Repeat this process every day.
What are your suggestions for writing in time crunches?