Often in the early stages of a writing career, and sometimes even in later stages, there can be a lot of demands on your time. This often results in reduced writing time. When you’ve not got long to write you don’t want to be wasting it by not writing, so I thought I’d explain some of the things I do to help get the most out of the time I’m spending writing.
The fairly obvious one is cutting down on the distractions. Mostly no internet, but sometimes I also find I need to go somewhere else. Somewhere I can’t answer the phone, the cat can’t meow at me to let her out or play with her, and I can’t see my emails coming in, or anything else that might distract me.
Depending on how rich I’m feeling, and the weather, I often go to a nearby park or a cafe. I always take paper and my favourite fountain pen if going to the park and I take my really old, but light, laptop to the cafe. It’s about 8-9 years old and just can’t handle the internet anymore. Which means no distractions and I also feel like I’m going to a workplace.
On top of that I’ve found going to a cafe makes me feel guilty about procrastination and spending too much time doing other things. I am spending money to be there so I better be working or it’s a waste of money. At least, I tell myself that and find the motivation helps.
However, a lot of the snatched time can’t be done somewhere else so I employ different tactics when I have to be at home. Firstly I check a few basics, like making sure the cat has food and water, then I cover the basics for myself. Being dehydrated can really slow the brain down so a pint glass of something water based comes with me to my writing area, sometimes even two pint glasses. This is especially important if you drink a lot of caffeine. Caffeine needs water in your body to work properly and it also drains your body of the water molecules so drinking extra water at the same time or just before works really well.
I again switch to my really old laptop so my distractions are limited but I know a lot of other writers also unplug their internet and often the phone too. I also found that it was really good to let certain people know that it was my writing time and during writing time I wasn’t to be disturbed. At first not everyone in my family understood but now the first thing my mother asks if she phones during the day is, ‘you’re not in the middle of writing are you? If you are I’ll phone back later.’ If you tell people not to disturb you because you need them not to, they will learn to respect that boundary.
The other thing I find that helps is taking five minutes during the day, before I intend to start writing, to think about where the story is at and what I want to write in the next section. I often do this in bed in the morning before I’ve got up but I find the shower works well too, as does a loo-break. I’m not really a planner but I find it helps me get into the flow a little quicker when I do get to sit down and write if I already have a vague idea of what I am trying to write.
Finally, I have also worked out when I’m most productive during the day. For me, mid-afternoons, about an hour after I’ve eaten lunch, is the best time to churn out the words. My brain just seems to be happier to work then so this is when I plan in most of my writing time. I found this out, pretty much by trial and error and keeping a track of how many words I wrote per hour and when I started.
It’s taken a little while to get this routine going but I’ve found that perfecting it and working out what I need has over doubled the amount of words I can write in the same amount of time.