Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Kick those bad (writing) habits!

Every writer, whether full-time or part-time, has her various routines. Sometimes they vary from one day to the next. Other times they’re set in stone. We all know the bad habits which creep in to disrupt our writing routines. But do we know how to kick them?

What works for me

Through trial and error, I’ve come up with a few habits which work for me. That’s the key--finding out what works for you. There’s a lot of sage advice and how-to articles out there, but if it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work.
·        Sketching out blog topics for a month at a time X 3 blogs per week = 12-14 blogs per month.
·        Writing the blogs on weekends.
·        Posting the blogs with labels, pictures, and links at The Word Place usually on Sunday night and scheduling them to go public on M-W-F.
·        Using Buffer to schedule Tweets about the blogs on the correct days.
·        Making a weekly calendar to keep track of “real life” and also work in times to write each day.
·        Finding a place to write (short story, novel, edits, rewrites) undistracted by the internet, whether it be a fast-food place, a park, or the back seat of my car at Sonic.
·        Doing what needs to be done with internet availability first and at home in the study before taking off on a mini-writing retreat.
·        Setting up the right “atmosphere”--blinds open, lights on as necessary, essential oil diffuser on, CD player going (classical music)--whether I’ve chosen to write at home or am just taking care of business on the computer
·        Checking off tasks completed--a great motivator.
·        Keeping personal business and writing business organized in separate notebooks and handy on my desk.
·        Leaving my desk clean and organized every night--a holdover habit from my teaching days. When I walked into the classroom every morning--other than distributing materials or writing instructions for students on the overhead projector, I was good to go--and it made for a productive and less stressful day.
·        Giving myself permission to deviate from my schedule so long as all the tasks are checked off by the end of the week.

What happens when routine/habits/plans are disrupted?

Well, it happens. I’ve had carefully-laid plans to write all day, for example, while multi-tasking with such mundane necessities as laundry or waiting on a service person to arrive. Then comes the early-morning phone call to say a grandchild needs to stay home sick from school--and could she hang out with Mimi? Yes, of course, she can. At that point, the writing just takes a back seat--although at times, when on a deadline with edits, I’ve explained to said munchkin that Mimi must have some time. They’re really pretty good about entertaining themselves with books, cartoon videos, or art work--although they always migrate to the study. Proximity to Mimi seems to be a necessary thing.
The point is, life happens. I don’t earn my living writing, so I have more leeway than a person who does. Also, I’m retired--and the day I closed my classroom door for the last time, I stopped hurrying. Life’s too short.

Kick the (bad) habits

·        Aimless internet browsing (not solid research for a writing project)
·        Unnecessary social media time--a kitchen timer set for 5-10-15 minutes is a good way to pull yourself back into reality.
·        Putting off ‘til tomorrow what you have time to do today--whether you want to do it or not isn’t negotiable.
·        Running between one non-writing task and what you’re trying to accomplish with writing. (Leaving long enough to transfer clothes from washer to dryer doesn’t count--anything more complicated is going to interfere with your word count!)

Don’t kick the (good) habits!

Routines get disrupted, yes, but not every day. Do first things first. Keep a separate list of the top three or four priorities for the week. If you get those done, even if something else has languished, you can claim success.

 And, of course, keep writing!!

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