Do you have big goals this year for your writing? Me too. Big projects and new endeavors are exciting, but can be overwhelming, especially with all of the other responsibilities you may have in your life.
When you sit down to write, you have to make the most of it. I’m a believer in staying focused, organized and attentive to writing time. But, it’s easier said than done.
Small Steps to Big Goals
Breaking down your projects and goals into smaller steps is one of the best ways you can ensure your success. Doing a little bit each day can accomplish a lot in 30 days, 90 days, or even a year. Be very specific in planning your time and stick to it. When you knock things off a list every day, you feel accomplishment, which breeds confidence. You don’t feel like you wasted your precious writing time when you have a plan in place. You rid yourself of distractions and avoid the guilt trip you give yourself when you don’t complete what you intended to.
I recommend using some sort of daily planner or task list. (I’ve created a cool one that you can download and use here.)
List your daily tasks and mark things off the list as you go. This system generates momentum and propels you further into your project. You’ll be more efficient and more organized without even realizing it. Before you know it, you’ll be accomplishing more than you thought possible in your writing sessions.
Besides proper planning, there are four important things you should be doing to maximize your writing sessions. Do these every time you write, and you’ll see your work improving.
Four Steps to Maximize Your Writing Time:
1-Pick the Right Time
Decide when you are most productive for writing and maximize that time. Early riser? Do it then. Night owl? Stay up late. Work full time? Use your lunch hour. Weekend warrior? Retreat there and write. Use the time when your brain is fresh and focused. Avoid times that you feel tired or have low energy. When you have a full schedule outside of writing, it is more difficult to fit in, but try to find times to write when you have some vigor left.
This is one of the most difficult obstacles humans have to crush, particularly in our age of instant interaction. Social media posts, videos, a song we hear and start singing along with, phone calls and text messages, a dog needing a walk, a child needing a meal, your boss wanting that report yesterday… it goes on and on.
The best thing you can do for your writing is to minimize and even eliminate all distractions while you are writing. Turn off the phone notifications, put airplane mode on your Wi-Fi, turn off the radio or listen to non-lyrical music in the background. Try to attend to family needs before writing. Tell your friends you’ll be unable for the next hour or two. It really is the only way to get things done.
3-Analyze Your Results
After your writing session, conduct a mini-analysis on your production. Did you reach the goal you set for that day? Were you close? Did you get distracted? What distracted you? What did you do well? What could you have done better? Remember that writing sessions are never perfect. Be easy on yourself. Writing is sometimes easy, sometimes hard, sometimes elating, sometimes frustrating. Understanding this keeps things in perspective and grounded in reality. Which leads me to the next step.
4-Praise Your Own Accomplishments
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Accomplishment equals Confidence.
When you praise yourself for even the little things you accomplish, you feel better about your work and a surge of confidence electrifies you to do more the next time you begin your project. Even if you did not complete your goal for the day, be grateful for the session you did have and thankful for the items that you did check off your list. Doing something is better doing nothing. It’s okay- not every writing session will be as productive as you hoped. Be kind to yourself and know that you did the best that you could at that time and will continue to do so the next time.
AND ONE MORE THING! -Reward Yourself with Self-Care
You work hard and you deserve breaks too. If you don’t take care of yourself, your writing will suffer. Each day, make sure you do something for yourself, outside of writing. Go for a walk, do a yoga class or play a sport, go get your favorite coffee or tea, meet a friend for lunch, take a nap… whatever you enjoy. Give yourself breathing room to refresh your brain for the next intensive writing and goal crushing session.
Using your writing time effectively can be like finding an elusive ghost, but you can track it down and tame it. Plan your daily list, minimize distractions, get it done, reward yourself. You’ll find that your writing sessions will be more enjoyable and less hectic.
Now, I’m off to follow my own advice– Lose the distraction and get writing!
P.S. Don’t forget to pick up this FREE Worksheet: Writer’s Daily Planning List.