Recently, I wrote about what I learned from taking on three solid months of writing challenges (you can read about it here). I also recently wrote about staying creative as an exhausted, busy mom (you can read that one here).
You might be wondering: how will this post be any different from what one about being an exhausted mom?
Well, I think there are a few key differences. There is a difference between making time to use your brain creatively and actively trying to write (a great amount of text) every single day. Plain and simple, that's the difference: when I first had Forrest, I had to find ways to keep myself creative, whether that meant writing or reading while I pumped or simply creating in ways that were different from before. (Again you can read that post here.) Now, when I expect myself to write consistently every single day, there are other methods I undertake--things that not just moms will relate to, but everyone who seeks to write a high volume.
So, who is this post for?
- Are you a blogger who wants to produce more content?
- Are you an aspiring author who wants to finish a novel or hit an important deadline?
- Are you a writing hobbyist who just wants to get into the practice of writing even when you feel like you have nothing to say?
- Are you someone who isn't sure if you would enjoy writing, but like the idea of it?
Basically: if you want to write more, I want to help you find ways to write more. Every day, actually. I want to help you find time, and discipline, to write every single day.
We've all seen the joke tweets, like this one (that isn't specifically about writing, but you get the drift).
*Goes on phone for specific reason to do IMPORTANT THING*— JEMMA 💖 DORKFACE (@dorkfaceblog) January 22, 2018
- Checks Twitter
- Replies to messages
- Checks Whatsapp
- Takes selfie
- Browses Instagram
- Closes everything & locks phone
REMEMBERS I STILL HAVEN'T DONE THE THING.
- UNLOCK PHONE & REPEAT UNTIL THE END OF TIME
Does that sound familiar? Sitting down to write and instead finding yourself browsing Amazon, reading the news, browsing Twitter. I think it's fairly typical. We're all prone to distraction, especially when we aren't feel particularly inspired.
What are some other obstacles we face, as bloggers, dedicated writers, or hobbyists? (I consider myself all three, in case you are wondering!)
How do we overcome them?
Every year during NaNoWriMo, this is truly my biggest obstacle; when I'm staring down a deadline, I'm definitely a flight kinda gal (instead of a fight). When the going gets tough, I get going, if you catch my drift. When a scene gets particularly sticky or I just find the scene I have to write dreadfully boring... I get distracted, I read the news, I send out a few tweets, I scroll through my Facebook groups, I change my music...
You get my drift. How can we cut out those distractions?
- Turn off your internet. I'm not kidding. Turn it off!
- Use pen & paper. Is it slower than typing? Yes. Are you less apt to be distracted? Yes.
- Download apps that restrict your websites. These apps are pretty popular among writers (just Google it); they allow you to block websites from yourself for a specific period of time. So that hour you plan to get some writing done? You can block social media websites, news sites, and more. And once the hour is up, it undoes itself.
- Set a timer. And I'm not talking a timer for an hour, or however long you planned to write. Set a time for 10 minutes, stand up, stretch, and take a break. Then set it again.
It all seems convoluted, but you won't be doing these things forever. Once you get yourself into a good pattern, you can slowly give yourself more freedom; you can start checking Twitter and then getting back to writing, because you'll have more focus.
What are you writing about? Right now, I mean. What's the thing that's making you want to put pen to paper?
Is it a blog post about writing every day? (I'll admit, I've taken 10 breaks writing this post already!) Is it a story you've been thinking of for years? Or do you just want to start writing essays, or poems, or short stories?
Finding inspiration to write every single day can be hard. Sometimes, you just won't want to work on the novel you've been plugging along with for years, or the short story that you really loved at first, but now hate to think about. Sometimes, you just won't be inspired.
So what do I do in those moments? I turn to my handy-dandy notebook. I keep a small, pocket size notebook wth me at all times and I keep a running list of things I see throughout the day that I want to write about. Here are a few examples:
- The hunger of creativity
- Dystopian society (World War Z style)
- A man in a flannel pushing an old woman in a wheelchair
Those are just fragments of things I think about, or see, or read about throughout the day. Things that spark a little flame of creativity, but I don't have time to explore in depth. When I don't feel like working on something permanent, or a blog post, I write in my notebook about one of my topics. I spin a yarn about someone I see. Or I write further on a topic I've been mulling over.
Inspiration can be found everywhere. If you journey out into the world throughout the day (even digitally--you can write about a tweet you found funny, like this one, or an article you read), you have things you can at least free write about. The more you write, the more you'll be able to write. (Trust me when I say, it's all about getting into a rhythm.) In getting into this kind of creative rhythm, you'll find the discipline you thought you previously lacked. (This is basically building a habit.)
Now, you might be asking, when do I have time to do all this?
You don't have to be writing for hours and hours. On average, I would say I write maybe 1-2 hours every evening... but that doesn't count all the writing I do at work (an average of 6-8 hours of pure writing and creating content at work, plus writing blog posts and social media for this little side hustle of mine). I write a lot. You don't have to write that much, I promise!
Dedicate the time you have. If you only have 30 minutes to spare in your busy day, then that's what you have. Spend those 30 minutes writing. If you want to develop a habit of writing, making time (even when you really don't want or you want to do other things) is extremely important. And it's really not as difficult as it sounds. You don't have to write in one solid chunk. Here are a few suggestions:
- Write in your notebook during your lunch break or between classes.
- Write while you cook dinner, or make notes on something you want to write about during dinner.
- Write while watching a movie or your favorite TV show.
- Write on the bus or train.
If you take opportunities to write throughout the day (or at least read and use your brain creatively), you're much more likely to continue the habit of writing when you actually want to get work done.
Start writing! You can't start a habit in one day; it's something you have to work at consistently. Once you get a good habit in place, you can modify it, drop certain things, and focus on creating something big.