One of the biggest challenges we face, in most aspects of our lives, is a shortage of time.
We find ourselves filling our days with being busy - and that means that the creative projects that we want to work on seem to take a back seat.
But being busy isn't everything it's cracked up to be.
Being busy means we fill our lives with the little tasks that move us through our days and make us feel as though we are getting things done, but when it comes to it, are we actually moving forward on anything we want to do and in the areas of our lives that are important to us? Are we nurturing our creativity and our sense of fulfilment and satisfaction?
If you are like us over here at writing.co.uk, you probably believe that in order to lead fulfilled lives, we should be creating something every day. No matter how big or how small, how unique or how 'creative'. The most important thing is to create - whether it is putting an idea into an email or a blog post, writing some thoughts in a journal, baking a cake or even creating a new way of doing something to make your life a little easier.
If you are a writer, then that form of creation usually comes in some kind of expression through words.
The problem is, creating is often seen as a luxury or as an indulgence, it isn't as important as getting those bills paid, doing the weekly shopping or tidying the house. But when you look at it from the point of view of personal fulfilment, creating is actually one of the most important things we can do.
And that is why you need to carve out the time to move forward with the fulfilling things in life, things that will feed your creative nature, things like writing your book.
There are many ways to move forward with writing your book, that aren't as daunting as they may at first seem.
Writing your book and reaching the end doesn't have to be a mammoth task, a little bit of work on it every day will move you forward more quickly than you realise - even if you can only slot in 30 minutes. You will be surprised what a focused 30 minutes can do for you.
It is true - the more hours you spend sitting at your desk or in your writing corner - by law of averages, you will end up writing more. Practise sitting at your desk with no distractions and only allow yourself time to do anything to do with your book. If it means you have to sit staring at a blank page for 10 minutes before you finally think of something to write, then so be it. You will eventually start to write something. It doesn't have to be good, it just has to be something. The point of these sessions is to start to pick up momentum with your writing - you are training your brain to get used to the idea that when you sit down at that desk, it's time to write.
As Stephen King says:
“Don't wait for the muse. As I've said, he's a hardheaded guy who's not susceptible to a lot of creative fluttering. This isn't the Ouija board or the spirit-world we're talking about here, but just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks. Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you're going to be every day from nine 'til noon, or seven 'til three. If he does know, I assure you that sooner or later he'll start showing up.” - Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
A big problem with getting through a productive writing session is for many people, the desire to go back and edit and tinker with what they have already done. When you are trying to get from beginning to end, this is not the time to start tinkering with your writing. You need to keep moving forward and keep wearing your writer's hat. Your editor's hat should be well and truly locked up in the wardrobe for now. The next stage is the editing stage when you can afford to stop and start and go back over things and revise.
For now - the main objective is just to get to the end. Don't worry too much about grammar and crafting perfect sentences. Make a deal with yourself that this is the draft that no one else will ever see so that you don't worry about the little mistakes and sounding good.
Will power is something we have a finite amount of on a daily basis. It is very difficult to restore our stores of will power once they have depleted in a day. Will power is what we need to help us sit and focus on the task in hand.
If we spend the first half of our day answering emails, surfing the net, and generally doing focus tasks other than writing, we end up with very little left over to get any writing done. And writing does need a lot of will power - simply because we need to be able to sit and focus for a period of time. If you can, schedule time in the mornings before you fill up your day with busy-ness and tasks and before your entire reserve of will power disappears.
There is nothing like hitting a scheduled writing session knowing exactly what you are going to do. Perhaps you are going to tackle chapter two or a particular scene today. Plan how much you want to get done and what your main focus will be for each session so that you can at least hit the ground running or hit that chair full-on scribbling.
Scheduling sessions is all very well, but if you can't write once you sit down and you find it difficult to stay focused - don't panic. This is a normal response when we try to take something on like this for the first time in a long time (possibly since any of us were at school!).
But don't lose hope - stay consistent, despite the resistance. The more often you sit yourself down and try to focus the easier it will become. Increase the amount of time you force yourself to focus for each session and time it. You will gradually see your concentration abilities improving.
Goals are important if we want to see progress. But it helps if we hit those goals. There is nothing worse than never hitting a goal to make you feel as though you have failed miserably - that only leads to losing momentum and motivation. See how much you can achieve in your sessions. Be realistic about what you can get done and how many of those sessions you can take on in a week.
Don't make it too easy on yourself, but also don't make it too hard on yourself - writing should be enjoyable. Take each week at a time and slot your writing in where you know you can realistically fit it in without interruption. Even better if you can slot it in in the morning for optimum writing time.
There is nothing like an accountability buddy to help you keep going with your writing. Once you tell someone about your plans, and you know they are keeping tabs on you, it becomes much harder to come up with reasons as to why you just didn't get any writing done this week. Find someone you know will keep checking in with you - even better if they are the kind of person who knows you well and won't stand for any poor excuses!
Joining a writing group is a great way to keep up accountability if you don't think you have someone you can buddy up with. Whether it is a Facebook group or a weekly in-person group, it can be a great way to keep a check on progress.
There is nothing like practising for the real thing to make you feel like you are the real thing. Visualisation is a powerful too. Visualise the life you want as a writer and start to live as though that is your life. Affirm it in the mornings in front of the mirror if you have to. Say to yourself 'I am a published writer' until you believe it and then start acting like one! There is nothing like believing in yourself for extra motivation to get you sitting down at that computer.
Are you suffering from Writer's Block? Read our tips here on how to beat writer's block and really make the most of your writing sessions.