Reducing Daily Writing Sessions from 2 Hours to 30 Minutes for Quality Work
The Flow State
Everyone has experienced the distraction-free zone when they work nonstop for some time and see wonderful results. We strive for the flow state in an activity that we want to improve. Whether it is writing, workout, talking or just sleeping. Distraction-free work is gold.
Since we cannot measure quality with a single metric, there is no universal way to understand whether your work will hit the mark. That’s what excited me too. If there is no quick way to judge, why not write without regret?
The brain’s attention span is short. We better use it efficiently whenever we can because all our senses are active while we are awake, and they respond to external stimuli all the time. You can choose to ignore them. But sensations like visual, sound and touch are too hard to avoid. That is why concentrating in isolation works well for laser focus. You need to make sure only the task at hand is activating all the senses, not any external source.
Write The First Draft Nonstop
When I started my daily writing streak on Medium, the goal was to publish one article every day. Like any new habit is challenging to incorporate, regular blogging was also hard. My initial aim was to hit the “publish” button before 23:59 hours every day.
That’s how I dragged my day before doing these things:
- start writing around 22:00
- writing while editing till 23:30
- even after editing on the fly, I used to proof-read the final version multiple times
- share on all the social networks where I am active
- sleep peacefully
On one busy day, I started at 11:15 pm and finished the entire writing, editing, publishing, and sharing in 30 minutes. That tested my resilience. I don’t exactly remember which article it was because I daily read some of my pieces for reflection, but the next day I read it. I couldn’t believe that the flow state can produce valuable work in less time if you are focussed enough in the present. I even did minimal editing for that one.
That’s when I decided to set a daily challenge to finish the initial draft in 30 minutes. No backspace button. Let typos be there. My target is to reach around 1000 words (I rarely reach it, but the effort is worth it every time) goal in ~30 minutes. How I do, it is by creating a positive atmosphere by writing at the terrace in an open area in the morning sunlight with birds and flowers in my vision. Nature is so energising, and I am still exploring new facets every day.
Editing With Proper Assist
The merciless phase, where you polish the article to make it impressive for every eye to set on it. Editing can take up a lot of time based on how you are editing. Broadly there are three ways to create a polished article:
- update yourself while reading (out loud or in mind)
- ask someone to read
- use tools like Grammarly
If anyone has used Grammarly, then you know it points out some issues you don’t even feel while reading. I trust it’s system, but only in the editing phase. I ignore it’s red notification circle in the writing phase because I am exposing myself to commit mistakes without regret.
While writing, I am on fire for 30 minutes. While editing I give the torch to Grammarly. You have to choose the simplicity of words based on what readers are you targeting. Do you expect your article to be read by editors? Then you have to use some powerful words that are rarely used and impressive. Are you targeting even a broader audience, then your aim should be clear communication with more straightforward terms.
Proof-Reading is Just For Consolation
Before hitting the “publish” button, I lock my computer and read the article on my iPad while walking. Not so much editing I do in this, thanks to Grammarly. I have free Premium access to Grammarly because they provide it for the globally recognized educational institutions. I used my institute-provided email ID to get that.
The important change in which proof-reading helps a lot is sizing of paragraphs. You want your information to be detailed, but also consumption without overload. Proof-reading helps with that. It helps break down the sections into the appropriate lengths of bite-size information.
This blog belongs to a series of posts I am publishing in this 100-days streak. Navigate to the end of the article 22 for the references from day 23 onwards. If you would like to read the ones before day 22, here is the first one that documents them in the end.