For the Artists Who Like to Remain Strictly Out of the Box
Staying on track when you are writing can be difficult. It means that you have to force yourself to focus and concentrate when there are so many distractions. Distractions may come in the form of paid work, children, home duties or just the cat nagging to be fed. In this article I want to share with you some of the tips I use to keep writing when there is so much going on around me.
Many new writers work either in part-time or full-time jobs just to survive. I run a business from home that is related to my writing but not entirely. I have to leave home at odd hours to visit clients or run classes. I have to answer the phone and emails as soon as they arrive. No matter what you do you are going to be time poor and you may lack the energy needed to just sit up and the computer each day.
If you have a paid job outside that takes you away from your home you are going to have to be strict with yourself. I can’t emphasize how important diet and exercise are to the success of your writing. You are going to have to eat lots of greens, nuts and drink lots of water. I add sliced lemon to my drinking water because it gives me more energy and helps undo all the bad stuff coffee causes in my system.
I know we all hold the romantic vision of the writer sitting at the desk, cigarette hanging out of the corner of his or her mouth; coffee cup sitting half empty. Well, for many writers this romantic ideal will inhibit their creative juices. I don’t want to be your mom but let’s face it if you’re eating foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt then you’re going to become more and more tired and not write to your best ability.
Exercise is another key to successful writing. Choose a marker or a point and when you’ve reached it get up and walk the dog or jog around the block. Your marker might be a time length – “In two hours I am going to stop what I’m doing and stretch and get some fresh air.” Or you might decide to set a word limit.
When I participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) I set a word limit that I must reach each day. NaNoWriMo is a worldwide event where authors write a 50,000 word manuscript in the month of November. It’s a great way to get rid of writer’s block and become much more disciplined in your structuring. However, I wouldn’t suggest it for novice writers as it can be a bit daunting. If I didn’t set my daily word limit I wouldn’t know if I was on target. 50,000 words is a lot to ask in a 30 day month so it’s important that I keep on track. I don’t go to bed at night until I’ve reached my daily limit.
If you are at home and running a business like I do or caring for your family you are going to find that day-to-day chores may disturb your writing time. Choose a time of the day when you will not get disturbed as much as others. This may have to be from 5 am to 7 am before the kids wake up. It doesn’t matter as long as you stick to it and write two to three times a week.
Essentially time management is very important. Don’t get me wrong I live an unstructured existence but I still get a lot done. I don’t watch a lot of Television nor do I waste time playing online games. I walk the dogs at least once a day but usually twice and I watch what I eat. When I have to go to my job I turn the computer off. Each day my timetable is different and that’s the way I like it. Unlike a lot of people I don’t thrive on routine; I’m the opposite. I thrive on unpredictability. If I have to work till 4pm in the afternoon I know that I have two to three hours in the evening to write after I’ve come home and done all my chores. Alternatively, if I don’t start work till 12pm I know I have all morning to write. I get excited about my writing time and really look forward to it.
Staying on track when you are writing is very important. Don’t log onto Facebook, for example, and then open up your manuscript. Just don’t! You want get anything important done. You will need focus and determination and you will have to make yourself sit down at that computer or pick up that pen and just write.
I love writing and yearn for it when I am away from my computer. I get a real buzz out of writing so I don’t have to make myself write so much but I do have to make time or I miss it. Having said that I have been writing books and articles for years and it has become second nature.
Look after yourself with the right kind of diet, moderate exercise and positive thinking and you will soon be t he self-published author you dreamed you’d be.
Juggling a business, family commitments and four dogs, three cats and several guinea pigs would send a normal person stark raving mad. Not Susan Day. Her love of writing has meant that she has to keep to a strict timetable and force herself to write. If you’d like to see some of her work please go to http://www.astrosadventures.com and see participate in Susan’s blog go to http://www.susandayauthor.com