You know how it goes. You sit down at your computer to write. But just before you start on your work you hover your mouse over your internet browser icon. Before you know it you’ve been looking at Facebook or the news or some other distraction for too many minutes.
Now you have less time to write and your brain is clogged with whatever rubbish you’ve been looking at.
Lack of time is one of the biggest excuses for not writing
I’m reading Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo. It is chock full of information and wisdom and I find myself highlighting huge passages of it.
I’ve just gone through the chapter on excuses and a major one for wannabee creatives is that they don’t have enough time. Forleo invites us to do a minute by minute analysis of our day a view to seeing where we are wasting precious chunks of time. Hello social media!
Then she comes up with this maxim — create before you consume.
You must start your day with making your own creations. Do this before you consume any other content — even if it is something that you might learn from (like Medium).
Create before you consume
This mantra is helping me throughout my day. I have a very bad habit of looking at Twitter and/or Facebook on my phone while I’m in the middle of doing my work.
I promise myself it’s just a quick look but it is easy to get drawn in and waste a few minutes. This has two disadvantages. Firstly, I’ve burned that time when I could have been doing something constructive. Secondly, I’ve also burned precious mental energy.
In the past few days when I have been tempted to wander off down an internet rabbit hole, I just repeat to myself create before you consume and I keep going. Finish the job. Get to the end of my allotted writing time or word count.
Recently I finalised my novel manuscript. Last Friday I read the whole thing from cover to cover. I’ve never been able to do this in a day. Usually I do it over two days.
Every time I was tempted to look at the internet I repeated create before you consume and kept reading.
There was one time when I failed. It was around 3.30 pm and I succumbed to Twitter. Predictably I was attracted by an article on Fast Company and went off and read it. When I eventually pulled myself back to my manuscript my brain felt clogged and tired. It hadn’t felt like that before my diversion.
I cursed myself, noted the affect on my mental state of getting distracted and then took myself outside for a fifteen-minute walk round the block. Thankfully when I got home I was able to pick up my manuscript and romp through to the end.
Things I have done to help myself create before I consume
The most effective change I have implemented is to unsubscribe from The Guardian newspaper.
Every morning I used to receive an email from them with the day’s news. I would peruse it as soon as I got up and allow myself to read two stories. All of a sudden fifteen minutes would go by and I would be behind on my timetable. That meant less writing time. I’m a Buddhist so it also meant less chanting, prayer and meditation time.
I haven’t missed the email. I also haven’t missed the depressing read that it presented to me every morning.
I tell myself to create before you consume every time I go near my phone or the browser on my computer. Get the work done first. I now have a quick browse at the end of my writing time as a reward for being productive.
I’m looking at Facebook and Twitter less and my life doesn’t feel lacking in any way.
I’m not perfect at it. But I am improving.
Create before you consume.
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