I have a friend who worships authors. She’s a sort of author groupy. Yes, she might romanticize many aspects being a writer, but she sees all writers as a sort of rock-stars wearing tweeds and smoking pipes. Her greatest aspiration in life is to write, not even for a living, just to get a novel out there into the stratosphere of artistic expression and watch it gracefully float around. Problem is, according to her, she never has the time to sit down and write.
I often also felt that “if only I had more time” I’d be done with my book and could have it published. But is time really the problem? Now that I am unemployed, I am not necessarily writing more, when I was recovering from surgery in my bed, with my laptop, I still couldn’t get more than a few hundred words a day. While most people blame their falling behind on their writing, it is actually their state of mind that is to blame, even to the point that their state of mind tells them that what they are missing is time. Confusing? Let me help:
We, as writers, want to put something to paper, but find it hard for whatever reason. What we usually do in this instance is distract ourselves, often in the guise of looking for inspiration. We read, play videos games, watch clips of cats playing the piano on Youtube, whatever, so long as we don’t have to face a blank page. This is the fallacy, we avoid the page, it isn’t that we don’t have the time, we just can’t write.
The condition might persist for a long time and become “writer’s block”, or it could be just an off day. Either way, here are some tips on how to refocus yourselves:
- Set a daily, or weekly, goal. Terry Pratchett, one of the most prolific science-fiction/fantasy writers of recent memory, used to write 400 words every day before he quit his job to become a professional writer. You can promise yourself something similar, either more or less words per day, or look at a bigger picture and work on a weekly word-count.
- Don’t be afraid of your writing. I know this happens to me; I start writing, but what comes out doesn’t really stand up to par with what I had planned in my head, so I just stop. Well, don’t. Treat that first part you don’t like as a warm up to get the creative juices flowing, you can always go back and improve on that one paragraph later.
- Make an evening of your writing. Let the family know you need to do this, and you might be surprised by the level of support they show you, take a nice tea to your work-room, maybe a sandwich, a beer or a glass of wine, make a whole thing out of it. Maybe even turn it into an after work relaxation ritual.
- Moderate your distractions. Some distractions are good. They inspire you, help you get away from being too bogged down with something, or they might just get those creative juices flowing. But limit yourself to one clip, one match on a video game, 20 pages of a book, or just one or two news stories. You will need some discipline for that, but it will pay off.
- Start your writing session by rereading the last bit of your writing. It will help you focus, remind you of what you were trying to say, and help you re-immerse yourself in the atmosphere you are trying to create.
These are just a few suggestions that work for me, don’t be afraid to share any ideas you may have on the topic.