We tend to procrastinate not only when we are away from our desks, but also when we sit down to write. We turn reading and editing into excuses that slow down our writing. But good writing requires sustained attention and our full presence – there is no other way.
Does a feeling of quiet frustration ever come upon you at the end of the day, on those days when you haven’t written as much as you would have liked to write? It’s an awful feeling for a writer. But we can guard against it.
Write on a computer or writing device without an internet connection. Unplugging the internet cable or turning off the WiFi may also help. But this requires a good amount of self-control. As an alternative, I recommend you try the AlphaSmart NEO2. It’s portable and inexpensive and runs on AAA batteries.
Write first, edit later. I found that developing a writing mode and a separate editing mode helps me write more. I don’t stop down to fix spellings, improve punctuation, or polish sentences. Instead, I try to finish writing first. If we constantly stop to check what we’ve written before finish it, our writing may never be good enough for us.
Do your research beforehand. If what you are writing requires a good dose of research, try to separate this process from the writing. Researching and writing at the same time involves a lot of switching back and forth between tabs and sources and leaves room for the distractions of the internet.
Develop a writing routine. Write in the morning before you do anything else. Or write at night, when the house is quiet and everyone is asleep. Let the time of be the cue you take for sitting down to write. If you sit down to write even on days when you don’t feel like writing, you will make writing a daily habit, and this is the best way to write more. Adding a word count may also help, but that depends on what you are writing. But be careful: a high word count may not only make you more productive but also dilute your writing.
Ditch your word processor for a simple notepad. All the bells and whistles that Microsoft Word and similar apps feature today can be distracting. By contrast, with a simple notepad app, you don’t even have to worry about formatting all that much.
Leave the title and the intro last. Often, these are the most difficult to write. Working hard to get the title and the intro right can keep you in one place for a long time. Allow yourself to be a bit sloppy with them if you must, knowing that you can return to them later, often with a better understanding of your subject.
Write something you believe in. When the writing goes slowly, it could be a sign that you’ve lost interest in the subject. Plow on ahead a little longer, just to be sure, but if things don’t improve, put the piece aside and move on to the next thing. Nothing that we write is ever wasted. Even unfinished pieces we throw away matter. They help us dig up the best writing that is in us.
Break up with your lover or spouse and quit your job. Last resort option, generally not recommended. Sadness and frustration may not make your writing great, but they will certainly give you a good excuse to write more.
Is writing for you more than a whim? Do you feel a constant need to write that at times goes against your own wellbeing and social relations? Then by all means, please write more and share your writing with us.