Time is one of our major shortcomings. We always seem to be running from one place to the other as if we were the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, “I’m late! I’m late!” This constant hurry also affects us when it comes to writing. Typically, our daily chores, work, family, social relationships, studies, etc. leave us with very little spare time to write; in addition, we have a tendency to postpone our writing sessions and leave them for the end of the day.
The problem is we’re usually very tired by the end of the day. As a result, we don’t offer any resistance to the excuses our brains come up with for not writing. Writers are very good at rescheduling our writing sessions. There’s often something very important that needs to be done at the very moment of writing, or perhaps we feel very tired and think we’ll produce nothing of value ... nonsense! All we achieve is another day without writing anything.
Don’t fool yourself. If you want to be a writer, you have to write every day – no excuses. Here are some tips for how can do it, no matter how many obligations you have.
1. Commit yourself. This is the most important step. Writing is like quitting smoking – you have to be sure it is what you want to do. You want to be a writer? Convince yourself that you want to write every day and commit yourself to doing it.
2. Put it in writing. Pretend to sign a contract with yourself. It has been proven that people who put their goals in writing are more successful when it comes to achieving them. Take a sheet of paper and write down your goals. A book I read long ago said it was helpful to write something like this: “I, [your name], will write every day starting today. I promise to write at least [the number of words you want to write] words every day, no matter if I believe I’m writing crap or if I’m not feeling very creative. I won’t get my butt out of the chair until I finish.”
3. Find a place in your schedule. I know you may have a very tight schedule with almost no time for writing. But if it’s what you really want to do, won’t you do it at least for a little while? It’s not about writing four hours a day; you can start with half an hour. After all, if you can establish a routine and write every day for thirty minutes, won’t that be more than what you’ve done so far? It can be a moment after lunch, before going to the gym, before breakfast (set your alarm clock half an hour earlier), or even at the end of the day. Try to save thirty minutes for your writing from Monday through Sunday – well, you can rest on Sunday if you wish.
4. Find the right place. It’s important you write in a place where you feel comfortable and – above all – where you won’t be disturbed. If you’re going to write for half an hour or a short period of time, try to find quality time so you can make the most of it. If possible, report what you’re going to do to your family and friends, and ask them for the necessary support. Don’t let anyone bother you during your writing sessions. Turn off the phone, don’t look at your inbox, and get as much privacy as possible.
5. Get help. If you’re lucky enough to have someone to support you, ask this person for help. Ask him or her to remind you that you have to respect your writing schedule and forget about excuses. Another alternative is to find a buddy, someone who also wants to create a writing routine, so you can support each other in your efforts. It’s like when you start exercising. If you jog with a friend, it’s harder to make excuses for not going. One of you will always encourage the other.
6. Don’t try to do everything at once. If you’ve committed to a daily writing routine, don’t try to start writing a novel, begin an exercise program, and quit smoking all at once. If you set one goal at a time, they will be much easier to achieve. You can organize your writing sessions in a funny manner without pressure. Try free writing for example. The first twenty days should be used to establish a routine. After that, it will be easier to add new milestones such as writing a novel.
7. Create a ritual and reward yourself. You’re asking your brain to make some changes and sacrifices to adjust to a new routine. The brain doesn’t like these things very much. It is reluctant to change and will try to sabotage your plans. Thus, you’ll have to bribe it. Create a pleasant ritual – find a place where you feel relaxed and find ways to reward yourself for each writing session you complete. It can be sipping a cappuccino, eating ice cream or a chocolate bar while writing, using a beautiful pen or notebook for the first time, etc. Try to associate your writing sessions with something pleasurable.