Hey folks, I’m writing this post after a conversation I had with Tim Grahl at the World Domination Summit, and then a subsequent email he sent me from his blog and a video series that he’s doing, all on being a productive writer. During the conversation he said that if he doesn’t wake up at the same time every morning and get his exercise, he has a difficult time getting anything done during the day
The Disciplined Writer
This struck me because I often feel the same way. Routine is a powerful thing and as authors we need to be self-driven. This often comes in two forms and I’m guilty of both. When I’m writing fiction, I get so tied into it that I disappear for days at a time. If you were to talk to my wife I’m sure she would say that it is longer than just days at a time and I’m sure that she would be right. I’m fortunate that my wife is so tolerant and patient, but I’ve realized that just because she offers that patience it does not mean that it is okay, as a husband, to allow myself to be drawn so deeply into my work. It is a balance that I am learning to find. I actually went to a meetup at WDS that talked about this.
The second scenario is when I’m writing non-fiction. If I don’t get up early and exercise I usually end up wasting my day. I don’t feel that same drive to write, that same addiction I have with fiction. So how does one find the drive to write without the help of the addiction?
The Mindset of a Productive Writer
Routine is important in both cases and the same routine can be used for both problems. Limit the hours I work on days when I’m writing fiction, if I have something to write then it’s easy for me to get up, write all day and then far into the night. For nonfiction, I need to wake up at the same time every day and then go to sleep the same time every night, but also setting restrictions on how late I actually work, they fit hand in hand. One ensures I can keep up on my blog and the other ensures that I make time for my wife when she gets home.
As a full time writer I don’t have the forced discipline that so many of us rely on. Get up at X, be at work at Y, or risk getting fired. But what about the authors who do work? I’m asked all the time, “How do you get so much writing done?” Right now its because I have a great deal of time on my hands. But I’ve only been doing this full time for a few short months. I was working 60 hours a week and forcing myself to write when I got home. We each write at different speeds so each of our goals will be different. For me, I forced myself to write five thousand words a night. That’s about three hours of writing for me. It wasn’t easy and there are always distractions.
We live in a noisy world and it is so easy to get sucked into TV and Facebook. We must force discipline onto ourselves, because no one is going to force you to write. You must find it within yourself to say ‘I am a writer and I will write.’
“Up to a point a person’s life is shaped by environment, heredity, and changes in the world about them. Then there comes a time when it lies within their grasp to shape the clay of their life into the sort of thing they wish it to be. Everyone has the power to say, ‘This I am today. That I shall be tomorrow.’ ” – Louis L’Amour
Turn off the TV, turn off the Facebook notifications on your phone, and close the tab on your computer. Keep them off during the block of time you have set aside to write. This will help you to be a productive writer.
We all get writers block, its just a part of being a writer. I have found that by setting a routine and sticking to it, closing off the distractions, and simple exercise; keeps my writers block to an almost inexistent level. If I feel like I can’t write, when I’m staring at the blank screen and nothing is flowing to my fingers, the first thing I do is look around and find the distraction. If you are in a quiet room and you can’t write, well something in that room is distracting you. A blinking light on your CPU? The ticking of the wall clock? A poster that you keep staring at? Get it out of the room.
That is at least a start. There will ALWAYS be distractions. We each need to find our own way of dealing with them but I will share what works for me. If I can’t concentrate and I’ve already gotten rid of the distractions, then it usually means that it is time for some self-contemplation. Bible time.
Think about it, you are in a room all by yourself, you’ve gotten rid of that annoying wall clock, but you still can’t write. You keep thinking about how many of your chickens the hawks have gotten the last week, or you are worrying about your mom and her health, or wondering how your wife is doing at work. These are all distractions that sometimes keep me from being a productive writer. Those are things that keep me from writing on my blog. So…I open my bible and read. When I’m finished I spend some time in prayer and give up my worries to God. There is a peace that can be found, a relinquishing of mortal concerns, it works for me.
What if you aren’t a Christian? I would suggest that you learn how to meditate. I enjoy a good meditation here and there and if you learn how to do it I guaranty that you will learn how to release your concerns long enough to write.
What I haven’t addressed are the noisiest of all distractions…AKA children. Unfortunately, I can’t help you there. I know writers who have kids and manage to find the right balance so that they can write. They don’t have the same amount of time that I do, but they still manage to balance it.
The key to all of it is Mindset. Your mindset is what transcends everything else. For most of us, MINDSET is really the only aspect of our lives that we have complete control over.
I hope that I’ve given you some ideas. I had a great time last weekend at the World Domination Summit, check it out!
This article was written by Jake Parrick.