In the previous post we looked at how to gain momentum when doing a big writing project. This time let's see how you can get off to a great, fast start for each of your writing sessions and keep up your momentum.
There tends to be resistance at three points:
For many peope this is the toughest one.
- Schedule a time and make sure your resources are there at the start.
- Use a mood board or folder of images to stimulate your thinking
- Use an app that gives you an uncluttered blank screen so you're not distracted by your desktop.
- Train people in your environment that certain days and hours are your writing time
- Find the location that works best – if necessary, go to a café, library, etc.
- Find a scent that energizes you (peppermint is good) and sniff it at the start (you can get little bottles of essential oils for this at many health food stores)
- Have tools you enjoy using – notebooks, pens, folders, etc.
- Before you start, decide on a small reward you’ll give yourself at the end of the session
- Use a timer so you don’t have to think about the time. I suggest sessions lasting 45 minutes, then a fifteen minute break (also timed), then repeat.
- if you’re tempted to do something else that is more immediately rewarding, imagine with all your senses how good it will feel, look, sound, smell when you have achieved your writing goal (the feel of your book in your hands, the smell of the new pages, the sound of people complimenting the book, the look of a stack of the books in the book store, the spreadsheet with the sales figures for your ebook, etc.
Also get a copy of my book, Creativity Now. The first section suggests 25 ways to get into a creative state of mind, the second section offers 25 ways to generate new ideas, the third section reveals 25 ways to go from idea to real project and the final section includes 25 inspiring examples of others who have built impressive businesses or careers using their creativity. It's published by Pearson and available from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller.
2: The middle
This is where distractions will intrude if you let them.
- Turn off the phones
- Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door
- Don't stop to check email or Facebook or Twitter, etc.
- Consider getting or making a stand-up desk so you can spend part of the session standing up. If making phone calls is part of that session's tasks, stand or walk around while you do it.
- Wear noise-cancelling headphones or have white noise playing in the background—whatever you need in order to stay focused. Listen to music if that doesn't distract you.
3: The end
At the end of a working session you may face two problems.
One: your Inner Critic rushes in and tells you that you didn’t get enough done.
- Use the Inner Critic visualisation to send it away (you can find this as a bonus on the website for my book, "Your Writing Coach").
Two: you are tempted to keep writing until you get to the end of a chapter or section— if you don’t know what you’ll write after that bit, this can be stressful.
- Follow Ernest Hemingway’s advice and stop mid-sentence so you’ll always know what you’ll be writing the next day.
RECORD YOUR PROGRESS
You'll feel more motivated during all three of these phases if you record your progress every day—the number of words or whatever measure makes sense at that point. Keep in view not only how much is left to do but also how much you have done already. Checking off squares or filling in a chart makes this a physical thing, which is very satisfying.
(For innovative time management strategies for creative people, see my book, "Focus: use the power of targeted thinking to get more done", published by Pearson.)