This might sound way too simple, but don't open your computer. Don't look at your phone. Don't even consider it. While yes, many writers use computers these days to write, they are distracting. From accessibility to the internet, online radio, television, and other tasks, the computer can be the death of your writing. I know from experience. I am writer by paper and every time I even attempt to write on the computer, I find myself editing somebody else's work or producing terrible material. Evidence shows that writing on a computer produces more errors than writing by hand too.
Next time you plan to write, sit down with a notebook, pick up your writing tool and just do it. You will be amazed how quickly you can churn out 2,000 words. Or how much better you can revise that poem that just seems to be sitting on your PC. And speaking of that...if you have tons of fragments and "scraps" on your computer, print them out...organize them and set them in folders. Work on them. Make them what you want them to be off computer.
If you really must use your computer because you've forgotten how to use a pencil, then turn off your wifi. Hell, find an electronic typewriter. Anything.
2. Plan Your Writing Time and Develop an Intention
If you are busy like I am, you need a writing schedule. And sure, that doesn't mean you can't write when it strike at other times, but it gives you the time that you need to write...no matter what.
Set 1-2 hours a day aside for writing. If you have kids and a "job" like I do, then you should try doing it in the early morning or late at night. I get up at 5AM every morning, make a cup of tea, stretch, and then write until 7AM. Two hours. After that, I feel complete and I can move on with the rest of my day.
After you have set up a writing schedule, set an intention. On your planner where you have blocked out some time (it doesn't have to be two hours...maybe it's only thirty minutes), tell yourself what you plan to do with that time.
- Write 2,000 words and revise a poem.
- Write 3,000 words on memoir.
- Spend 10 minutes drafting article ideas, 30 minutes doing research, and the rest of the time writing the query letter.
- Edit a blog post for ______ minutes.
- Brainstorm article ideas for the week.
- Update my blog posts.
- Write an essay about __________.
- Work on chapter _____ of my manuscript.
- Bid on ________ writing jobs.
By creating a structured plan, you will know what you need to accomplish in the time that you have. I have my entire planned, from the time I wake up until dinner time. If I didn't do this for my writing, editing, homeschooling, crafting and exercise, I would fall apart.
Here's a sample of my schedule:
As you can see, I schedule time on one side and a checklist on the other. My to-do list is more of a goal tracker. I don't always get everything done, but that is built into my schedule. The important things get done first. And even when I don't achieve the 2,000 word writing goal which is exclusively geared toward creative writing, I accomplish 2,000 words in my freelance work. Win-win.
This does not work for me, but for many friends that I know, it is a winner. I am more of a set the schedule sort, but for others the sense of urgency lights their writerly fires. Set a goal of 10-20 minutes and just write about anything...or write about a targeted topic.
The writers I know who use this tool tend to use it as a free write or brainstorming session. The goal is to produce creativity rather than an end result. It provides material for current or new projects.
Consider building in 1-3 short writing sessions throughout the day to keep your mind churning out ideas.
5. Take breaks throughout your sessions
I wouldn't suggest this for only writing! In our house, we do what we call "stop breaks" that last 15 minutes. For every 45 minutes that I work, I take a fifteen minute stop break to play, read and run around with my kids. By doing so, I get to be an active part in their fun AND my brain gets a much needed break.
When I return to work, I feel refreshed and motivated to continue working. Be sure to set a timer for yourself during work and during you breaks. Or keep an eye on the clock. Build the stop breaks into your schedule! Otherwise, you may forget about them.