This whole “Making Time to Write” thing wasn’t meant to be a series, but it turns out getting writing written is way more complicated than just “sit down and write.” Because it’s easy to sit down, and to start writing. It’s even easy to convince yourself you have written, but really, have you?
“I spent an hour writing yesterday!” says the smug voice of my conscience. “I sat at my desk for a whole hour without getting up. First I checked my email, then I made sure my desk was tidy, then I browsed on Google for some pictures to help inspire me, and then I read this really interesting blog about procrastination, then I checked my email again…”
“And how many words did you write in this hour, oh guilty-voice-of-my-conscience?”
Maybe some of us aren’t using our time to the best of our ability, hmmm?
Well done, you’ve made time to write! But it’s wasted if you’re not actually going to us it for writing. Not researching, not checking your email, not even making sure your pens are in a neat row. Writing.
The best thing about the internet is that it has all the information and advice in the world right there at your fingertips.
The worst thing about the internet is that it has all the information and advice in the world right there at your fingertips. And pictures of cats with melons on their heads.
It’s easy to fall into the “I’ll just check my email” trap. It’s usually followed by the snapping jaws of “I’ll just make another cup of tea” and before you know it it’s time to pick up the kids from school and the day’s gone.
Suggestions – Switch off the internet. Disconnect from the wibbly wobbly world wide web and use your computer like a typewriter. I use a handy little programme called Freedom, because I have no willpower – check it out here – http://macfreedom.com/. It describes itself as “Internet Blocking Productivity Software”, and it’s a tiny programme, very easy to install, that switches off your online connectivity for a specified period of time, so you can’t go looking for pictures of cats with melons on their heads.
Take off your desktop games – Solitaire, Angry Birds, Minesweeper (Treasure Madness is my downfall) – you don’t need them, and they are there to tempt you away to the Dark Side. If you have to have a tidy desk, tidy it at the end of your writing session, so it’s hopefully tidy for next time.
Get words written. Work out how many words you can average in an hour without any distraction, and divide that by two (for thinking time). Or set yourself a target for the day. It doesn’t have to be an insane amount, say 250 words at first, and DO NOT leave your desk for any reason other than toilet breaks until you have done that minimum. If you finish your word count before your allotted hour is up, well done! You can have a cup of tea and check your email. If you don’t, well, there’s something to aim for tomorrow. You might find you’re going over your word limit regularly – great! You mind find you want to write for more than an hour – brilliant!
You might find it’s dark outside and the school is phoning and the cat has ordered out for pizza because it’s convinced it’s never going to get fed again. You are now a proper writer 😉 Have fun!