FOCUSED WORK ROUTINES FOR YOUR WRITING SUCCESS
Have you ever experienced the following: you are sitting at your desk and are having a great time writing your manuscript or thesis. Words just flow out of your fingers and your text is getting longer and longer with high-quality content and appealing writing style. Then – the inevitable happens and a popup informs you that just now, you received a new email.
How exciting – this could be the message you have been waiting for. Maybe your last manuscript has finally been accepted, or you received an invitation for an interview for that perfect position you have been applying for two months ago. Of course you will check your emails – and of course, it is only some arbitrary message with completely uninteresting content. So, you switch back to your writing, but alas you forgot what you wanted to write. Even worse, you can’t get back into that perfect writing flow. You might need a lot of time before you manage to get back into “writing mode” again. If you’re thinking: “No, I’m not checking my emails that often.” – it could also be that co-worker who wants to chat, your phone ringing, your need for the toilet, or a flock of birds passing by your window. It could be anything!
If this sounds like you: don’t worry. We have all done that and been there! But, fear not: there are solutions to this problem. Here are seven of the best:
1. Prepare your workspace before you start writing.
This includes everything you will likely need for a couple of hours of concentrated work. Whatever works for you: Get the coffee machine ready, prepare your favorite tea-cup, fill the kettle, have a snack ready, have a jacket handy in case you might get cold, etc. This will minimize the chance of you getting up and leaving the desk to get something you need.
2. Decide for how long you want to keep writing.
This is an often overlooked, but key aspect for writing success. Set yourself a definite time and commit to writing for that amount of time. This could be anything from 30 minutes to 4 hours before you allow yourself to take a substantial break and do something else entirely. Commit to “stay with the writing for two hours”. At the end of the day, this will lead to more quality content, than the approach to write “all day”, but then losing interest after 30 minutes and doing something else, then beating yourself up for not staying with the writing.
3. Write a quick outline of what you plan to write.
This is very important and it will absolutely save you from staring at that blank screen, not knowing where or how to start. If you have your outline and still don’t know how to start, just add content to each point of the outline, making it longer and longer and without even knowing, you will produce content.
4. Quit your email software while you write on your manuscript.
When you are sitting down to write on your manuscript, quit your email software, close your facebook and twitter browser windows (and whatever else you are addicted to), turn off notifications in your phone, and maybe even turn off your phone entirely, if you are receiving a lot of phone calls during the day.
5. If you need the toilet, stop mid-sentence.
This is a great little tip and one that will really make a difference in your writing routines! When you need the toilet (or when any other inevitable distraction requires you to move away from your desk), do not finish the sentence you are currently writing, even if you know precisely how to do so. Stop in the middle of the sentence and keep the rest of that sentence in your mind while you are away from your desk. When you get back, you will remember where you left off and can simply continue to write. Chances are very high, that you can remember everything and will be able to proceed without delay.
6. Don’t give into the temptation to “stop for now”.
When you find yourself running out of words, don’t worry. This is a natural thing that happens to every writer. What sets the efficient writer apart from the inefficient is what they do when it happens. Instead of switching to something more pleasurable, thinking you’ve done enough writing for the day, sit back, close your eyes and take five deliberate and deep breaths, while trying to think about nothing – especially not about writing. Then, open your eyes and simply get back to work. Just like that. That way, you will continue writing with a couple of five-minute breaks during the day, instead of quitting writing for that ‘quick’ break, that will likely last the rest of the day.
7. Give yourself a pat on the back at the end of the day.
When you reach the end of your allocated writing time for the day, put a smile on your face and realize what you have just accomplished: a solid and focused block of writing. It does not matter how many words you have written. It matters that you were at it with a concentrated mindset and following a good plan.