Monday, December 1, 2014

Four Things that Changed my Writing World

I love writing.

I do.

Even when I can't.

If I'm excited about the story I'm telling, or working on an intense scene, I can tear through some words--no joke. Sometimes, though, the words don't come, or the time to write just doesn't present itself (in addition to writing, I also have a telecommuting day job and two kids to wrangle). Some days, writing just can't be a priority. I know you understand. You're there, too.

However. . . .

I made a few changes in the last year so that I could write more consistently (at least five days out of seven, if not every day).

Here's how I managed:

1) I Sent Myself a Reminder

I have my iPad set up to "ding" every day at three o'clock in the afternoon.

The message that appears?


If I want to be a writer--if I want to get the books written--I have to make writing a priority. Three o'clock is actually a pretty inconvenient time for me, and, unless it's the weekend, I'm usually working.

But this simple statement sends a powerful message:

Writing is important. 
You want to write books, not grade papers forever. 
Remember why you're here. 
Make time for what you love to do.

The message also validates my goals and dreams. This is my way of owning who I am.
2) I Re-scheduled my Writing Time 

This past year I switched out my afternoon/late night writing routine for morning writing sessions.

(It was a necessity, as I was mostly sleep-deprived and a zombie by nine/ten o'clock, anyway.)

I realize that not everyone is able to do this, and, for others, it means getting up super-early. I don't have anywhere to be, though, so when the baby started waking up consistently for a bottle at 7am, I decided to go ahead and start working. My mind is clear, I'm fresh, and the kid is content (for a while, at least). Even though I'm not a "morning person," I discovered that I could easily pound out 1,000 words before my day even begins.

Now, when my iPad reminds me YOU SHOULD BE WRITING, I can smile and think: got it. If I'm lucky, I'll have a few minutes before I crash in bed to work on my ms, but it's okay if it doesn't happen, because I've already met my word goal. 

This means I'm not frustrated at the end of the day; 
I set out what I accomplished to do first thing. 

3) I Started Doing Timed Writing Sprints

I use my iPad for this, too, and a free app called 30/30 to manage my tasks and keep me focused. When I have a small window of time to write and I'm trying to stay distraction-free, I plug in a 30-minute writing sprint and go. 

There's something about a clock ticking to zero that motivates my fingers--
that keeps them moving.

The app is great, but any kind of timer will do (oven, microwave, stopwatch, egg timer, etc.).

4) I Started Using Scrivener

This was actually a gift to myself last Christmas, and it was the best $45.00 I have ever spent. This software is AMAZING. Honestly? I don't know why I spent so many years writing in MS Word. I can keep my photos, brainstorming sessions, and "outside" links all in one place. I can outline. I can jump from chapter to chapter or section to section. There's a built-in thesaurus and dictionary. I can even export to MS Word, or compile a mobi or epub file directly from my chapters.

I actually look forward to opening my Scrivener files each day. 
It does all the dirty work for me, so I can focus on the writing. 

It's a great feeling.


So what's keeping you from writing more consistently? Time? Focus?

Or maybe you don't write. Maybe you have some other longing--something you want to do or be. Something you want to accomplish.

What's stopping you? What's keeping you from making this happen?

I'll be back with more later this week.

In the meantime. . . .

Be Brilliant!