“I’ve always wanted to write a book.”
When someone learns I’m a writer, that is nearly always the response.
I think everyone wants to be a writer. It’s an American thing, isn’t it? But what makes the difference between someone who wants to be and someone who is?
Maybe they’ve never gotten organized enough to write. Maybe they don’t think they have enough time. I’m one of the busiest people I know. The reason I find time to write is because I make time to write. Even if I have only snatches of 15 minutes here and there, I’m writing.
Here are a few things I do to write like my hair’s on fire:
- I use my Writer’s Planner sheet to organize my day. The night before I write down my six most important things to get done the next day. I also figure out what errands I need to run, what I need to get done in my day job (ministry and college classes) and then in the column for writing I have a list of things I need to get written. I include my word count goal for the day (it differs, but I shoot for 1000 at least a day but prefer 3000) and record what I actually got done. (Don’t think word count is end all and be all. One of my favorite authors, Kate DiCamillo, only writes 250 words a day and she’s a best-seller and has won huge awards! I tend to throw up on the page and edit later.)
- One of the most important things on my list is time with the Lord, reading the Bible and prayer. I can’t imagine being inspired without His anointing.
- I keep a Word Document open on my computer with my list of tasks for the day so I won’t get distracted. Yes, this duplicates my hard copy, but it helps me stay on track. I’m trying to learn to use the Google task tracker but I’m not yet in the groove.
- If I’m able (and not usually) I clear my calendar for two weeks to wrap up a project. I let everyone know I’m on deadline and I shut myself away. If my family isn’t cooperative I leave the house and go somewhere quiet where I won’t be interrupted such as the library or some other venue with wi-fi (because I depend on Google for research). I don’t make any appointments outside of writing.
- During my writing sessions ignore all emails that are not blood or fire. (If they aren’t bleeding or there isn’t some emergency, I let them sit unanswered.)
- Stock up on crunchy foods like carrots (ahem) for keeping me awake in case I’m tempted to feel drowsy. I also try to plan on meals I can eat at the computer. Snacky type stuff that’s high in protein. Since my surgery I’ve discovered a delicious high-protein powder to add to my water or milk. Yum. Perfect for working!
- Social Media is on hold until after the word count or project is completed.
- My family hasn’t yet died eating a frozen lasagna or ordering in. They are grown (albeit with disabilities) and they know they are on their own when I write. I had to decide to be selfish about my writing career in order to make it happen. When I finish up a project or sign a book contract, we go out and celebrate AS A FAMILY, because they all pay the price by sacrificing Mom/wife attention.
- Water. Lots and lots of water. It hydrates the brain.
- Make myself sleep. This is very hard for me. But I think more clearly when I’m well rested. I tell myself that God works while I sleep. I take a Benadryl to help me feel drowsy.
- Either go for walks or use my glider exercise machine DAILY. I prefer to swim in the summer.
- Rewards: if I’m bored with the process I set the timer and tell myself “I’m going to write for 15 minutes and then I can stop.” I also reward myself for big word goals reached by either allowing myself a small purchase on Amazon (I am an office supply and book fanatic) or some other treat such as a movie night. I think rewards along the way are important because we are so alone in the process before we see any feedback.
- Ignore my phone. I have it with me but unless it’s important I don’t answer it. I also subscribe to an answering service through Google. Yeah, I know, they’re probably spying, but it’s pretty cool. It transcribes the phone messages and sends me an email transcript of the phone call. Then, when I’m going through emails later, I can also answer my phone messages in order of importance.
- Organization. I think this is super key to writing like your hair’s on fire. I have a space for everything. That’s not to say I’m a neat freak because when you live with autism and three dogs, you can’t be. But I know where all my supplies, books, research, calendar are all the time and keep them near me when I need them even if it means they’re in my rolling backpack.
Speaking of organization, you can download a copy of my 2014 Writer’s Planner! It’s my gift to you for a Happy 2014!
What will you do to write like your hair’s on fire in 2014?