If you’ve done the time management analysis, then you have a good idea how much time you can devote to writing each day, but measuring your writing by time is often not the best way to produce quantity of work. If you have more than an hour each day to devote to writing, try setting a goal of word count or page production rather than time. If you set a goal of writing for one hour, then you may tinker and your mind may wander, and eventually, you may write half a page and call it a day. But if you set a goal of 1000 words a day, your focus tends to improve and you learn to write more quickly and more efficiently.
Setting writing goals based on word count or pages also allows you to calculate a potential finish date for your rough draft – something that will become necessary once you establish a readership and promise them new releases by certain dates. If you have no idea what your daily writing productivity is, you can shoot yourself in the foot before you ever leave the gate.
When you first begin writing, don’t set large goals that are unreachable, or you will only end each day with disappointment. Instead start small – one page a day. Write one page a day for a week. Don’t write more, even if you’d like to continue. The following week, increase to one and a half pages a day. Write one and a half pages for two weeks, then increase to two pages a day. Continue with this incremental increase until you’ve maxed out your daily writing time. Don’t set your daily goal at your maximum capability as you will have days that it’s not obtainable. Writers often have days when their productivity is off-the-charts, but unfortunately, those days are often followed by periods of inability to write. Burnout is real.
Set yourself up for success. Wasting time messing around with equipment that doesn’t work properly or trying to find a comfortable place to sit is a misuse of valuable writing time. Set up your writing space and computer equipment ahead of time. If you are easily distracted, make sure you write in a place with the ability to close the door, or other household members will disturb you. If everyone in the house refuses to be silent while you work (that’s a joke) have headphones ready with whatever works for you – music, talk radio, DVDs.
Ground yourself with something that puts you in the mind frame of writing. For example, you may have a hat that you wear only when writing, or maybe you have a coffee mug you use only when writing. Putting on a writing hat or shirt or drinking a sip of coffee from your writing mug should be the first thing you do every morning. Make it a habit and in a matter of weeks, you mind will shift immediately to writing mode when you come in contact with your grounding object.
Always end your writing day when you know what you will write next. The advantage to ending your writing day mid-thought is that it makes picking up writing the following day much easier than staring at a blank page and trying to figure out how to start a new chapter or scene.
Copyright © 2010 Jana DeLeon. All rights reserved.