Writing is simple, but it is not easy. The process of making thoughts and dreams and stories clear is not easy. Words are these slippery little devils that cause all of us to struggle daily and often it is just not easy to communicate what we really want people to understand.
Still, those thoughts, dreams, and stories are important to share, both for the writer and for all readers. In this age of instant gratification, writing –with all of the added steps of brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing– can seem an impossible task. So to take on this challenge, I would like to share the specific ways I have discovered that help me the most with writing. But keep in mind, that the most important step is to find what really works for you when it comes to writing.
The best and most effective way to get work done is also simple, but not always easy: eliminate distractions. I understand the feeling of having a million thoughts and feelings all at the same time with demands dragging my attention in a lot of different directions. The television is on, my twitter feed is up, someone posted on my Instagram, there’s a message on Facebook, my husband texted me a funny GIF –how could I possibly write when so many other things are happening at the same time?
First, I need a specific spot to work on writing. Whether that is in a coffee shop, at a desk, or on a couch, every person is able to focus in different ways. For me, I can’t be too comfortable or too uncomfortable, so a sofa or overstuffed chair does not work for me. Also, going to a library or coffee shop rarely helps me be really productive, but on certain days it does help. I can easily get distracted at home and start doing laundry or something else that I feel “needs” to get done, but I have found having a specific spot really helps me focus. I have this desk at home, which was left by previous owners, and in my mind, it is made to make me feel like a literary genius when I work from it, whether or not I am writing drivel doesn’t seem to affect me. At least I’m writing.
Second, I have found that I am more motivated to write when I’ve done a few things first before I start writing. I sit in my writing spot. I have already texted, checked in with others, done the social media thing for my allotted amount of time already, and now it is time for me to write. Then I grab my noise-canceling headphones. I would’ve never thought about getting these for myself, but my husband let me borrow a pair of his when we traveled last year. I was shocked by how much it really helped me focus. Sometimes I listen to music with lyrics, but to really kick my focus up a notch, it helps to listen to music that is designed to help people focus, binaural beats specifically. Feel free to research if binaural beats actually help or not; I just know that it helps me. It also helps to set a timer, which someone suggested helped her get more writing done. If I set a timer for an hour and if the timer is running then I am ONLY allowed to work on writing. Nothing else. I’m often amazed how much that helps me because if something else needs to get done, I tell myself I will get to it after the timer goes off.
Third, have a support group that cheers you on while also keeping you accountable. Part of me wishes I had never shared with anyone that I am working on writing a novel. Because they ask about it. They care about me. It’s so frustrating for me when I can’t tell them that I’ve made a lot of progress or finished the first draft! But that also helps motivates me because that is exactly what I want to share with my supportive accountability group. Support groups are not always people in my personal life: my friends and family (though I am fortunate to have supportive ones in both categories). But from my experience, many writers do not have these types of support groups in their personal lives, but they found support groups online. I had no idea there was such a wonderful and supportive group on Twitter for writers. It helps encourage me and challenge me when I see other people consistently writing and sharing their writing. It reminds me that I can do it too.
The last thing I would encourage writers to do to help with writing is to read, read, read, and read some more. For me, I love reading, but with so many demands on my time, I worry about getting everything done and I also often feel guilty if I am “just sitting” and reading. Listening to books on audible helps with that guilt and I can feel like I’ve accomplished more, whether I am cleaning, exercising, or driving. I also switch out audiobooks for writing podcasts which often help me with ideas and gives me more information about specific topics regarding writing.
Many of these suggestions were originally given to me by other writers and I want to pass them on to you. I have found what works for me; I would encourage every writer to find what works in his or her own life. What caused me to write the most –more than anything else –was being involved with the National Novel Writing Month of November for the past seven years. The reason this was successful for me and many other writers, was it allowed us to put doubts and insecurities aside long enough to just capture ideas as quickly as possible by writing as much as possible. Because of that, I was able to write a majority of my novel and over 50,000 words during the month of November. It was a goal that was encouraged by my support groups; I gave myself the necessary time and flexibility to do it, and I did it. Now I need to keep doing it so I can finish my novel. But I believe I will finish it and I believe you can write. You just need to find what works for you.