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How to Get the Most from Writing Sessions

How to Get the Most from Writing SessionsWith finite hours in the day, our writing sessions need to be productive to help us meet our writing goals. Writers write, and sometimes we need to use a few tricks to get it done. It never hurts, either, to experiment with what works for others, try different methods and tricks. You might find some don’t work at all for you, but you might find a few that do.

 Preparation

Plan your work. Think about your scene beforehand. Start writing it in your head before you sit down. By the time you get to the page, you won’t have to stare at it waiting for the words to come.

Think about your schedule. Is it possible to schedule writing time during your daily creative peak? (We all have one. It helps to know. Mine, for example, is about two hours after I get up and again after dark). If your schedule dictates that you write on the weekends, that will look far different from someone who gets up an hour early every morning to get the words down. Know your personal flow and schedule writing sessions for peak times when possible.

Intention also matters. Having enough of a road map to know what  you intend to accomplish during your next session is helpful, even for extreme pantsers.

 Routine

Don’t underestimate the power of routine for helping you focus. While it can shake up  your creative flow in a good way to deviate from routine, there’s also a lot to be said for setting expectations for your writer mind.

If you listen to music, start each session with the same song (and only listen to it then). If you prefer ambient noise (I use a thunderstorm), don’t listen to it outside of writing sessions. That helps your brain know it’s time to produce.

Use a separate work space for writing if you work from home or spend a lot of time on line. In the same way psychology helps insomniacs, it can help creatives. Use that space only for writing and your brain will adjust, slipping into writing mode when you sit there.

Try to write at the same time each day as another way to slip into writer mode.

 Distractions

This should go without saying, but if you struggle with it at all, turn off the internet (or use a system without it) and turn off your phone. Don’t worry, they will be there when  you’re done.

If you need silence to write, get your family or housemates on board and put a sign on the door so they know to leave you be.

Writing to music is great for those who can. If not, find some audible white noise that works for you and helps block distractions.

Turn off your spelling and grammar checkers. Red and green squiggles can be terribly distracting and your job is to write, not edit.

 Tricks

Set a goal. Quit groaning, it’s a good thing. Don’t set a time goal. You can decide to write for an hour and spend most of it staring at the screen or picking apart one sentence. Better to set a word count goal or a page goal. Start with a reasonable goal and continue to increase it every month or two until you have stretched your capacity and are comfortable with your production level. For some of us, that’s two pages or 500 words a day. For others, 5000 words is not out of reach given their available time, experience, and level of practice. Find what works for you.

No editing! If editing as you write is a problem and turning off your squiggles isn’t enough, try ilys.com or Write or Die. If working on a browser is a problem due to internet availability, here’s a little trick I use. Open your word processing program, choose a small script font, set the font to 6 or 8 point, turn off squiggles, and type away. You can’t read what you’re writing at all, but it’s easy to translate after your writing session. If this is a problem for you, address it. Again, your job is to get words down, not edit.

 

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8 thoughts on “How to Get the Most from Writing Sessions

  1. Terrific, Robyn. The thing I need to get better about is really thinking about my scenes beforehand. My best writing time is 5-7 am. I could start picturing my scenes the night before as I drift on to sleep. I’ll try that! Thanks.

  2. I’ve heard of studies that show reading or thinking about something right before sleep is a good way to get it in your memory, so thinking about your scenes might have the same effect. 🙂 Let me know how it works. I envy you the early morning part. Life with little people is not conducive to writing all night, lol.

  3. Great tip about reserving a certain type of music or ambient sound to listen to only during “writing time”. I am going to give that little “Pavlov’s dog” experiment a try starting this Saturday.

  4. Hey Robyn

    Thank you so much for these implementable tips!!!

    Using squiggles to prevent the ‘editor’ from harming our creative flow is pure genius! haha – I am ecstatic about stumbling onto your site

    Much love
    Kitto

  5. Terrific advice here. These are things I have done when my writing’s going well, and it’s good to be reminded that I should get back to them. I have an annoying tendency to get into a bad rut and forget to get back to the things that work, so thanks for the conk on the head. 🙂

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