When I was a six-year-old in kindergarten, I was easily distracted and had a problem keeping my eyes to myself. When we were supposed to be working on an art project, the little boy next to me started talking and I got caught up in the fun of the conversation. The teacher noticed, and she came over and whacked me hard on the head with a big book (she was kinda mean).
While still in school, did you find yourself peeking at a classmate’s paper, only to be chastised by teacher? She would peer over her bifocals directly into your eyes, and you felt the fear of being caught. If you learned your lesson, you immediately turned back to your own test, refocused on blackening in those circles, and tried to guess the correct answers.
This current electronic social media age lends itself to turning people into modern day voyeurs. Like moths instinctively drawn to a flame, we are drawn to spy on others’ Facebook pages, You Tube videos, or websites. This creates a feeling of discontent. We ask ourselves, “What are THEY doing that I’m not? Why are they so much better than me? What’s wrong with me?”
Nothing is wrong with you. Just as keeping up with the Joneses and buying a bigger house or car will keep you forever in a destructive cycle, the same applies to writing. We have our own styles, our own methods of working, and our own distinctive subjects that push our hot buttons. Our neighbor has theirs. We are all different, and we work differently as well. As soon as we come to this realization, we will be happier, contented, and at peace. Our focus now back on our own work–we will accomplish more.
There are 11 simple steps that I strive to follow that help me increase my writing output, which cannot be accomplished when I’m looking over my shoulder at everyone else. Follow these steps, and I believe you will be on your way to more books, more blog posts, more articles, and a much happier you!
1) Meditate. Spend some quiet time first thing in the morning blocking out the world. My chosen path is prayer and Bible reading. If you like to just spend it just clearing your mind in a quiet atmosphere, that is fine. Just clear the cobwebs out of your mind to make room for the things that really matter. This will give you more clarity and focus than anything else you do.
2) Have a plan. Make a list, preferably the night before, of your top three items that will move you forward towards publishing that book, article or blog post. Use a planner (Paper or electronic) Plan out your month and then break the steps down by week, day, hour, etc.. I like using a Weekly or Monthly Planner from the dollar store that I can lay open to glance at, or a web-based planner can be found at http://Wunderlist.com. If you like mind maps, you can create those with a free one such Freemind. Try a couple different methods to see which one works the best for you.
3) Prioritize. What is your top #1 item to do that day? If you get through all three on your list–fantastic! I have found that writing any more than three down on any given day, is a recipe for feeling overwhelmed and torn, and usually not much gets accomplished.
4) Research or Study. If you need to get some research done–before you start writing–do this first. Organize all the research all in one place, such as a document or on a legal pad. Have it right in front of you before you begin writing.
5) Environment. Figure out what type of environment allows you to do your best work. Do you need perfect quiet? Noises of a café? Music?
6) Forget perfection –dive in! I am a recovering perfectionist, and I can truly say this keeps you from making progress on your goals. As the Nike slogan says, “Just do it!” and worry about fine tuning, i.e., editing, later.
7) Social Media off limits! At least until you tackle the most important thing on your list first. Give yourself a time limit, and reward yourself by quickly scanning Facebook and Twitter, respond if necessary, and then return to your work.
8) Time yourself. Would you like more hours to magically appear in your day? Try timing yourself. I tend to do my best work when under the gun of a timer. Here’s a site that will allow you to plug in your to-do items and then set the timer when you are ready to work! You can listen to the ticking countdown, or turn off the sound. It will ding when the time is up. Try it at ActionEnforcer.com
9) Tackle one item at a time – Multitasking does not work! As human beings, we are made to only work on one thing at a time. Pick one item on your list, work on it for the amount of time you have set before you move on. Finish what you start.
10) Exercise. Our bodies are meant to move. Complete one item, close down that screen of your laptop, push your chair away from the computer, and go take a walk, do some yoga, or lift some weights. Try to take a break from sitting about every hour. Finally, last but certainly not least:
11) Be Flexible! Realize that life will interfere, and you will sometimes not be able to adhere to your schedule. If I can’t follow my plan I’ve laid out for myself, I realize the best laid plans…Give yourself grace and realize there is a new day waiting for you tomorrow.
I’m always open for learning new tips. Leave a comment and let me know what tips have helped your writing output!
Penelope Silvers is founder of PhilosBooks.com,
where “Independent Authors are introduced to the World!”
She is a freelance writer, publisher, and radio host of
Penelope’s Book Chat on Blog Talk Radio.