Since time is of the essence, no wonder we want to take from it as much as possible. But numerous “just one more episode” and “gotta find the right word for it” somehow result in one page in three hours. Try the following methods that helped me, and might help you.
Can’t beat procrastination?
1. Alternate between work and rest. In fact, there is a great video that explains why we procrastinate in the first place. In a nutshell, human mind craves for an immediate result and satisfaction such as from playing a videogame rather than waiting for you to finish the novel. To overcome that, write an hour and a half, then scroll down the newsfeed on Facebook for another twenty minutes. Comfortable proportions of time vary, but remember that resting should last sufficiently shorter. The trick is to get down to work after the break, for which you’ll just have to develop discipline.
2. Write at a certain time every day. Discipline goes a little further than that, though. However, this will help with clearing the schedule for writing. Ming that every day means every single day.
3. Keep a list of things that set off your imagination. As much as we like to hate the questions about where ideas come from, we do know the answer: from everywhere. And ideas are not made out of thin air but of other ideas, rearranged and recombined; a lot like dreaming yet not that random. Better still, keep a list of things that inspired you to design a particular piece. Then when you one day find yourself no longer interested in it, see if you can rekindle the zeal.
4. Go for new experiences. It is easier to write about something after feeling it yourself. You will be able to come up with new conflicts and problems you wouldn’t have considered before, or even elicit a number of other projects, not to mention the whole “get a life” concept. Do carry a small something to scribble in; memory is treacherous.
5. Take up writing challenges and competitions. They provide with an opportunity to compete with other writers without being a famous and accomplished author already. A few seemingly impossible or at least difficult tasks, and you will discover just how infinite is the number of ways to seek out a new idea. For instance, try to write a 500-words long story involving fear of death, a rebellious teenager, and pancakes (the choice of these elements may be completely arbitrary). As to competitions, they can also enhance willpower. When you desperately need that money, the chance of finishing until the deadline flies high up into the sky. However, I personally don’t know anyone who makes a living out of writing competitions. Consider it a start of freelancing rather than a source of consistent income.
6. Consider changing the genre. That is if you can never get yourself excited about the same project for a time long enough. Sure, “best-selling novelist” sounds enticing, but what if it isn’t your thing? Flogging the idea to death will not result in an eye-catching book, let alone a masterpiece. In any case, do not confine yourself within only one form of the craft.
Writing too slowly, thinking for hours about what-ifs and that perfect word?
7. Challenge yourself. There are a few ways to force yourself into not editing every sentence as you write it:
- Simply don’t. If the problem seems mild, it’s possible to dispose of the habit without tricks.
- Switch off the screen and type in blindly. You can’t edit what you don’t see.
- Use application like SpeedWriter. Such programmes can help you to isolate yourself from all sorts of distractions by making you race with time. The goal is to type in two hundred words within a minute or so. Very effective in such hopeless cases as mine.
8. Keep track of what you write and the time you spend on it. People have disparate limits of efficiency. To work at the maximum, you should know what it is for you.
9. Get feedback. In many things, art in particular, we cannot judge ourselves. While not all that people say about your writing is worth listening to, someone else’s opinion could reveal mistakes and prospects you wouldn’t have thought of, not to mention that it feels good to make people interested in your work.
10. Sometimes write just for fun. Misquoting Jeremy Clarkson, for some reason car-drivers don’t ride simply for the feeling of it, unlike motorcyclists. Fan-fiction writers produce tons of content created with no intention of profit or “a footprint in history”, and you have as much right to enjoy yourself. There is a terrific article about writing what you must and what you want, which I will not copy, but the point is to remember why this profession appeals to you. On the contrary to the job of a CEO or, say, a doctor, writing can be more art and fun than work and system.
What are your ways of doing the job better and faster? Let me know in the comments below, via e-mail, or whichever way you find most convenient. And if you liked this post, don’t just sit there. There are digital and very flattering ways of stimulating me to write more of the how-to’s.