Stop Making Excuses!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm a "brewer." Once I get an idea in mind for an article or story, I like to let it simmer, let it steep and build until I have the perfect blend, like a delicious cup of tea.

Honestly, it's procrastination at its best - or worst - depending on how you look at it. Once I get the initial sentence down on paper, I have no problem letting the words spill onto the page.

(Smartphone just dinged. Gotta check my Facebook message. BRB.)

Perhaps it's perfectionism. Maybe I'm trying to string together the perfect sentence filled with beautiful imagery and bold action verbs.

(Hubs just walked in and asked if I planned on serving breakfast today or if I was going to make brunch.)

Or, maybe I need to learn to better manage my time.

All writers need to find the right balance between writing and life's other obligations. Often, we complain that we can't find time to write.

(Excuse the interruption. I'm checking Twitter right now because a building is on fire in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska, just a block from our oldest daughter's apartment. Phone call confirms she's okay.)

Sometimes, we need to learn the difference between finding time and making time. Need help? Here are a few of my favorite ways to boost productivity:

  • Identify time wasters and get rid of them. Facebook, Twitter, email can suck you in, and before you realize it, you've lost minutes (or hours) of time. Limit the amount of time you spend on social networking and perusing the inbox. Your WIP will thank you.

  • Devise a plan to add writing time. Some writers are up writing way before daylight breaks. Adding an hour or two in the morning may seem like a grand solution, but waking up early means you're also taking away precious pillow time. Make a plan to wake up 15 minutes early, or a half hour early a few mornings and see if it helps your routine. Personally, I like to stay up late at night and write like a mad woman once my husband is entrenched in bed and snoring like a baby. The key is making a writing plan and sticking to it.

  • Mark your territory. When I first began freelancing a decade ago, I wrote from my dining room table. I'd spread all my materials across the table and write. When I was finished, I packed up stuff until the next time. Now, I have an office, and even some days, I prefer to get out of the office and move to the kitchen table or the living room sofa. The point is, you need a space to write. And then, you need to use it.

  • Multi-task. Sometimes, I'll write a paragraph, leave the office, walk into the kitchen and perform another task. I'm still thinking about my project, but when I'm stuck, this technique allows me to get some daily tasks accomplished while I contemplate my next word, sentence or paragraph.

I made time to complete this blog post. And now, I'm staring at my to-do list and planning the remainder of this writing Sunday.

(Oh look, Grown Ups is on pay per view.)

Make time to write. Make a commitment to your writing. Your craft will thank you.

by LuAnn Schindler. Read more of LuAnn's writing at her website. Photo by LuAnn Schindler.


Unknown said...

Like the humorous twist on all this stuff of distraction!

It is so easy to while away minutes into hours.
Thanks for the list of suggestions.

Sometimes that perfect cup of tea (Earl Grey) or a nice mugful of Nabob Summit coffee, is all that I need to get focused for some writing time!


Trisha said...

But procrastination is so fun! Hehe. Just kidding, I'm getting better at not procrastinating, at least when I am editing. It's great to have a finished work ready to be ripped apart, instead of trying to actually get something finished.

JJ said...

Liked your post. Funny take on distraction which is my biggest problem at the moment. Putting on my headphones and drowning everything else out seems to work best for me. That, and do not for the love of my WIP, log in to Twitter.

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