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Creative writing is a muscle you have to develop. It takes more than desire. It takes commitment.
Rule #1 is to remove distraction. Any distraction is a guaranteed drop in productivity. I live in a quiet area outside of town. It’s perfect for writing. I can work outside on my laptop and listen to the simple background noise of the waterfall on our pool.
But even with that peaceful environment, there are multiple ways to get distracted. The Internet is the biggest. When I sit down to write, I turn off the Internet. Shut down all email. The phone is set to silent. You can’t keep your train of thought with all these distractions available to you.
For me, it’s hard to write on my main desktop. There are too many software programs and distractions available here. There’s no way I can write with a browser open.
Instead I do all my writing on a laptop or my iPad. When I turn on my business laptop, it’s time to write. The only programs on this computer are Microsoft Office.
It’s even easier to focus when I use my iPad.
I have a Zagg keyboard and use the WriteRoom app. Not being able to multitask on the iPad is a huge advantage. This app is limited and pretty much just gives you a screen to type in plain text. It uploads the files to Dropbox where I access it in on my main computer.
The iPad is easy to take with me anywhere and has zero distractions when WriteRoom is open. It’s perfect.
I’ll take a look at my notes for the section I’m working on. Glance at the clock.
Start writing. The goal is to write for at least 30 minutes. Often an hour or more passes before you know it.
You may not have the “perfect situation” like I do. Perhaps you have 4 year old guaranteed to start screaming the moment you get into the flow. Or there is a house being built next door with a bulldozer so loud you can barely think.
Find a time of day you can write without distraction. Maybe it’s the baby’s nap time. Or you have to get up an hour before the rest of the family. Or stay up late and do your writing at midnight.
Writing books tell you to get up and write for an hour in the early morning before you do anything else. What about when this doesn’t work for you? What about those who fall over asleep when they get up early?
Make it personal.
When is the best time for you? This is a time when you’re in a creative flow and still have energy. And it’s a time when you can get by without distractions. For me that means peace and quiet.
Perhaps zero distractions for you means a busy coffee shop at lunch time.
You take your laptop down to Starbucks every day at noon for a one hour writing session in the corner. Find a routine that works for you and gets you into the flow every time.
This doesn’t means it’s always easy. It just means it works. Think back on your life and whenever you’ve done your writing. Maybe it was an article you’ve written or a term paper you did in college.
What circumstances surrounded you when you were able to perform at your highest level?
Was it quiet or noisy?
Was it early morning, noon, or late at night?
Were you at home or at the library?
Was there a hard deadline coming up soon or were you writing in advance without pressure?
Use your imagination and think back to your best performances.
What time was it? What was going on around you? How did you focus? How long did you work at once? What was your mental state?
Some people love quiet. Perhaps you enjoy having music in the background. What kind of music keeps you focused without distracting you?
Find a time of day that works for you.
If it’s 6 AM in the morning, then more power to you. If it’s every day at lunch, schedule it in. If it’s 10 PM right after the kids go to bed, go for it.
Find a groove you can get into. My favorite place is back by the pool. Perhaps it’s the writing desk in your guest bedroom. It might be the kitchen table. Or it’s the middle of the library. All that matters is finding your personal routine.
At 10 PM every night your family knows where to find you. You’ll be at the kitchen table on your laptop writing. And they know they better not disturb you at this time if the house isn’t burning down!
Write it on your calendar as an appointment.
Yes, I know your life is hectic. It’s a nature of the world we live in today. You’re busy. It’s not easy to schedule out this time, but it’s required. You have to ask yourself how important your dream is to you.
A lot of people say they want to write a book, but they never find the time. You demonstrate what’s important to you every day. Once you’ve made a decision to write, stay consistent with this decision and make writing a daily activity you cherish.
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