A book chat at a café designed like a library — what’s more fun? Hopping into the city to meet my dear friend and gifted writer Wendy is always fun (http://tastesbitesandlicks.tumblr.com and http://woof-tails-of-archie.tumblr.com).
Sipping cappuccino and munching little treats was a delight — I haven’t had a sticky bun in ages! And to be surrounded by books — a total pleasure. Wendy and I covered the waterfront: current projects and future plans — Wendy is working on several screenplays that sound terrific.
During our chat, Wendy suggested that I write a post about how to create and hit deadlines when there’s no outside force pushing you to meet them. I mentioned one technique that helps me: Creating a simple morning ritual of reading several inspirational books and then launching into my work. Attaching my writing to my morning ritual seems to anchor me and help me get started. Then Wendy described some of the approaches she uses and they sounded so helpful, I wanted to share them:
Goal setting: Before she goes to sleep at night, Wendy often makes a list of writing goals she has for the next day. This keeps her from forgetting anything and keeps her focused on the work she wants to accomplish. She reviews her written goals in the morning — a touchstone for the day.
Getting started: We all know that revving up our writing engines can be tough. To get started, Wendy sometimes sets a timer for 20 minutes and keeps writing during that time period. When the timer rings, she’s overcome that initial inertia and keeps going.
Staying focused: When she’s working, Wendy keeps a piece of paper off to the side so she can jot down notes about things she needs to do apart from her writing. If a distracting thought pops up during her writing session — “Oh, I have to pay that bill,” or, “Oh, I should call that person” — Wendy simply jots it down on her note paper and then keeps writing. Love this!
Making time: Wendy finds that creating blocks of time works best for her. “If you have all day to write, it’s harder,” she finds — it’s easy to get distracted and let the day drift away. Instead, she decides on a specific segment of the day, say a 4-hour block in the morning, and then sets a goal of writing until she hits the “deadline” at the end of that time. Creating a time block and then organizing her day around it keeps her on track. “Being a little restrictive helps,” she notes.
Overcoming inertia: A while ago, Wendy was having a hard time setting self-imposed deadlines for herself, so she came up with a plan: She made herself get up at 5:30 in the morning and write, then she walked her dog and went on with her day. “When you force your way through something difficult,” it gives you momentum. Just sticking to a challenging regimen for a time helped her break through her log jam and make progress.
Stop at a good point: Wendy’s found that if she stops a writing session at a good point, then she has a good place to pick up again. This overcomes “getting started” inertia.
Know your own rhythm: Knowing when you have the most energy and focus is helpful. Wendy knows she tend to run out of gas in the late afternoon at about 4, so she organizes her writing sessions with this in mind.
Great advice from a gift writer. Bravo, Wendy — write on!