As you develop your daily writing habit, focus on how triggers can help you become a more productive writer. Analyze your routine in the moments before you typically write. Look for repetitive or consistent things that can serve as a Pavlovian-like reminder that it’s time to work on your manuscript. For example, if you brew a cup of tea before you sit down to write, brewing tea becomes the action that signals your brain that it is time to write. Also, be aware of triggers that can distract you from your writing and take steps to silence those before you get to work.
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You’re halfway through Write by Midnight. Now is the time to celebrate your accomplishments. If you’re meeting your goals, try raising the bar and seeing how much more you can achieve. If you’re not on track, now is the time to reassess and refine your expectations. Remember, the goal of Write by Midnight is to establish a solid writing habit. You only have two weeks to go. Go find that second wind.
It can be hard to focus on your work when there are other things screaming for your attention. One way to increase productivity is to put yourself into a writing bubble. Tell your family, coworkers and friends that you’re writing now and want to focus on your work. Let them know they can have your attention when you’re done. Put your phone in another room and disconnect from the internet. If stray sounds distract you from your writing, try using a white noise maker or playing background music. Sometimes, noise-canceling ear plugs are the better way to go. If you respect your own writing time, others will do the same, and you’ll be that much closer to getting published.
Don’t fret if you’re having trouble coming up with the perfect words during the Write by Midnight challenge. The important thing is to spend time writing or improving your work-in-progress. Placeholder sentences are the saving grace for many writers during the first draft. When you know what needs to happen but inspired prose fails you, flag the spot with a symbol like a double hashtag or ampersand – something that’s easily searchable later – and tell what you want to show. Then move on. You can revisit the phrasing when inspiration strikes or during the editing phase.
Setting a timer helps many writers become more productive. Start with a short period of time – anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. When time’s up, take an even shorter break – anywhere from five to 10 minutes. During the break, do something physical. Taking a short walk, grabbing a bite to eat, dancing to your favorite song, even household chores will get the blood pumping, stimulate your senses and rejuvenate you for your next writing stretch. Avoid tasks like watching television, reading a book, checking social media, surfing the web – they’re apt to sap your focus away from the story in your head.
When your break is over, reset the timer and repeat. Try extending the writing time to break time ratio. If you wrote for 15 minutes and took a 5-minute break, try writing for 30 minutes with a 10-minute break. Keep tweaking the ratio until you find the most productive method for you.