Megan Norris Jones
I used to be an A+, top-of-the-class, nothing-less-than-perfect-will-do student. I could study like a machine, get it done, and move on to the next thing. But I’ve realized something lately. I don’t study any more. I’ve graduated from school; there are no tests, and if I want to know something, I just look it up. So my razor-sharp concentration skills that I was so proud of? Yeah, they’ve gotten a little fuzzy, and it’s starting to affect my writing.
There are plenty of contributing factors. I have three children who ask me a question or need something from me approximately every ninety seconds. Ninety seconds is not a long time to develop concentration. And if they don’t need me after ninety seconds has passed? I remember something I’ve been meaning to look up on my phone. Or I check email. Or Twitter (follow me @mnj23!). Or I’m already plugged into a podcast. And then a kid asks a question again. I am essentially training my brain to be distracted. And if I’m distracted when I’m trying to write, my productivity plummets. Continue reading
Few people like to look another person in the eye and admit they’ve failed, especially if that person is someone who is depending on you or views you as a role model. That’s one reason experts recommend that you find someone to hold you accountable when you’re trying to reach a goal. Continue reading
Write by Midnight, our annual challenge to help you establish a daily writing habit, starts Feb. 1. That’s this Thursday. Now is the time to get your plan ready, your space ready and your head ready.
Start by re-reading your work in progress. Assess what you already have on the page and what you still need to accomplish. Make a plan for what you want to achieve over the month. Break it down into reasonable daily and weekly writing goals. Then put those goals in writing and post them somewhere you will see them every morning.
Next, turn your attention to the place you plan to write. Grab a trash can and recycling bin and clear the space of clutter. Stock up on any supplies you might need: pencils, printer paper, highlighters, sticky notes, notebooks and index cards. Download that new writing program you’ve been wanting to incorporate into your routine and learn how to use it now so you don’t waste precious time revisiting the tutorial. Figure out how you want to track your progress and have those tools at the ready. (Feel free to use our printable writing log, which you can download here.) Making your space free of distraction will help you focus on reaching your writing goals.
Once your space is ready, get your head in the game. Remind yourself of the things you love about your story. Talk about your project and goals with an enthusiastic supporter. Set yourself up for success by remembering that you are a writer. Say it out loud and often.
What time of day are you the most productive with your writing? Does it change day to day?
Knowing when you have time to write is the first step to establishing a consistent writing habit. Over the next week, analyze your routine to figure out how long you can commit to writing each day during February’s Write by Midnight challenge. Look for pockets of time to write, even if they aren’t at the same time each day. Or, see where you can add minutes to your daily writing schedule if you’re already in a good habit.