In our last podcast Kel and I spoke about developing a writing schedule as part of our attempt to ‘get our shit together’. That’s a work in progress and we certainly don’t claim to be the masters (in fact just the opposite!) but we did throw around a few ideas on how we might do this.
- Scheduling daily (or frequent) writing sessions in your diary
- Working to a word count – possibly 300 words a day. Maybe 1000? Maybe 3000 if you’re on a roll
- Join our #300 words a day challenge and let us know how it goes for you
- Writing down your word tally each day so you can track your progress at the end of the week
- Having a writing buddy (thanks Rae) who can keep you accountable with daily messages or phone calls. Something subtle like ARE YOU WRITING?
- Letting go of the need to write something ‘perfect’ which is the easiest path to procrastination
- Having a dedicated writing space (that’s mine in the photo – aren’t I lucky?)
- Using blocker apps to keep you off the internet for a dedicated amount of time. Like Freedom which according to the blurb on its webpage is “the app and website blocker used by over 450,000 people to improve focus and productivity.” This post from the guardian lists a few more.
- For the times you just can’t get any writing done (yes, that’s you Kel) have a notebook handy and jot down any thoughts you have on you project so you stay in the dream of your story
- And, my personal favourite, the pomodoro technique.
The Pomo What?
Glad you asked.
It’s a time management tool developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980’s. Basically it breaks your time up into intervals, usually 25 minutes in length separated by breaks of five minutes.
You set the timer for 25 minutes, write your heart out (which you can do now you’ve blocked those pesky Facebook messages and twitter notifications, oh and turned your phone off or at least silenced it), then stop when the bell rings. Stand up, stretch, make a cup of coffee, then sit down when the bell rings again and start your next 25 minutes session. After 4 sessions you get a longer break (half an hour) and then start again.
Why Does It Work?
It tricks your brain into thinking it’s not doing much. Because you know you’re only going to be there for 25 minutes you write faster and that annoying voice in your head telling you to find something else to do is easier to silence. Taking frequent breaks help keep you fresh, gives your eyes a rest, allows you to stretch those tight muscles and, most importantly gives you a chance to re-caffinate (or consume whatever your poison happens to be).
Once you start building up sessions and seeing your word count rise there’s not only inspiration but a subconscious challenge to keep going and finish your longer session by ticking off all those smaller intervals.
Here’s an example:
I sat down to write today and did all sorts of things to distract myself – checked Facebook, replied to an email, scrolled through twitter, and here’s an irony, spent half an hour downloading a pomodoro app because I couldn’t access my iTunes account! (You may be able to tell that I haven’t yet invested in an internet blocker.) Finally I gave my self a talking to, clicked on the now downloaded app and started writing. In five 25 minute sessions I managed to write 1818 words. Not earth shattering but better than the 895 I wrote in the same amount of time yesterday without the app.
You can do your own thing by using a timer on your phone, a portable times or an egg timer but there are plenty of apps out there, some of them free. Just google pomodoro technique or pomodoro app and you’ll find loads. I chose the Be Focused Pro app because it allows you to chart your progress which I thought I’d find motivating. That’s if I can work out how to do that part.
So those are just a few techniques for getting your butt in the chair and words on the page.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on what gets you writing. Send us an email or connect with us on twitter or facebook
And happy writing.