Writers’ Blokke
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Writers’ Blokke

How These 5 (Seemingly) Petty Changes Have Doubled My Writing

As a writer, I can’t ask anything more

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio(Pexels)

A place as serene as a virgin island. Quiet, like a monk's breath. In a time that has become a dead man’s heart — stopped. You are all there with your myriad thoughts, your mind brimming with ideas you need to explore.

And the bell rings. Amazon delivery. Back to reality.

Yes, the above can only happen in a dream or in a post-apocalyptic world where you alone have miraculously survived.

We writers long for some ‘write’ space. A stretch of time/ place when/where we can be all alone with our writing, with no distractions. But, that’s not always to be found. So, we resort to ungodly hours or inaccessible corners of the house.

I was no different. I had my set of distractions spinning around me. Prior to my newly designed day, my writing schedule would be erratic.

It was like stealing a few moments from the day for my writing.

My pain points

There were so many but majorly I can divide them into these three bits.

Having a decent stretch of time for pure writing.

I would write in bits and pieces. A small paragraph here and some house chores. A paragraph there and attend a call. Some research while I cook. Read an article while I wait for the school bus. Though I was on it, I felt everything was half-baked.

Feeling overwhelmed with all that I can/have to do.

I can bet my bottom dollar every writer, especially new ones, experience this. Once you start researching things, you are slapped with so many things that you should do in order to be a successful writer;

You literally feel you are shrinking amongst this rising pile of things that need to be done.

LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, SEO, keywords, Slack, Substack, Facebook groups, newsletters, headline optimization, writing tools, content layout — you get my point.

You feel so lost initially. You feel like a sitting duck with people throwing water balloons from all directions, you cannot stop.

Loads of distractions.

And on top of the above two, you have so many distractions- both related to writing and otherwise. Non-writing distractions would be —

  • Phone calls: courtesy calls, booking calls, promotion calls, order confirmation calls, blah blah blah
  • Chores: that’s a long list we all know. Need I write?
  • Family: This is enormous. With work-from-home and online school, my husband and daughter are always at home. Sometimes there is something they want, need to say, or show. How to write!!??
  • Deliveries: Again, thanks to covid, we all are hooked to online purchases. But with it comes the hassle of parcel collection, returns, refunds, exchange…
  • And many more such that cannot be categorized.

There are some writing-related distractions too. Well, you may not coin them distractions exactly, because they do add value but what I mean here by distraction is something that drains some of your writing time.

  • Emails: too many of them
  • Courses: usually the free ones
  • Webinars: which start free but finally end up as a bait for the paid course
  • Success stories in other areas: projected as ‘easy’ with quantified proven results in dollars — there are so many, it’s unending.

Most of the days I ended with a dissatisfaction that I could have done much more today. There would be a big list of to-do things glaring at me. I would learn about so many things yet barely had time to act on them. My frustration was growing.

I knew I had to do something.

What I did

Wishing to be the lone survivor and an apocalypse was out of the window. Neither was a lone trip to a deserted island.

I had to devise a plan. So, I sat down with two simple tools, a pen & a paper, and chiseled my plan. First, I dissected my whole day and picked up places where I was going wrong. Then I planned a better solution or an alternative to that.

Slowly and painstakingly, I redesigned my day.

1. Put on an ‘indicator’ that I am writing

I got a new accessory recently, reading glasses. But I wasn’t wearing them that often (read never).

But, I took those out of my closet, called my family, and declared that when I am wearing the glasses, that means I am writing. Unless the house is on fire, or it’s a tsunami coming, or you see a blue whale in the garden — DO NOT DISTURB. I will not listen to you, anyway.

That did wonders. I would see hubby dear or daughter come for something like before, but wouldn’t say anything 90% of the time.

What you can do: It can be anything — a glass/mug that you can say your writing mug, a particular book, or even a sign of DND, for hell's sake!

2. Having writing sprints

Right now I am in a writing sprint. I started it at 9:14 am and will end at precisely 10:00 am. What do I do in my sprint?

  • close or minimize all tabs except the one I am writing.
  • I may have a google search tab open
  • I do not check email, pick up my phone, attend to any calls, do any chores, or check out any other resource (I jot it down somewhere to look into it later).

The basic idea behind being to focus on just the writing. JUST THE RAW ACT OF WRITING.

What it did: By day three, I trained my mind to quickly fall in line with the simple act of just writing. I noticed a remarkable improvement in the speed and volume of my writing. My mind was focused, like a laser.

It also quantified my work. By the end of the day, I can tell precisely how much time I have dedicated to my trade. I am in a better standing of evaluating how my day went- writing-wise.

3. The post-sprint break

I would stop exactly at the pre-determined time if I had some other job to attend to or would grace some more time if I can afford it.

But, once I was off my sprint, I would attend to other things without keeping the writing bug in my head. I would switch it off.

I would focus on the additional things that need to be done. Plan ahead, and try to tick off things from my other lists.

I am no longer a writer at that time. I pick things that had popped up during my writing sprint and some more. Things like unattended calls, ordering stuff, etc get my attention during this time.

How it helped: I feel better. I know I will get my writing time and my non-writer part also is at peace that things are okay. I have comfortably slotted my day, which effectively has made me a better writer and the other half.

4. Snooze the writer

The first thing I used to do in the morning was check on all my writing platforms for notifications and stats. And immediately my mind would start racing, mentally jotting down things I had to do today.

Even though I would not be at my writing desk, I would be engrossed in those thoughts. I would do my laundry but think of that thing that I had to do/see.

The compounded effect of continuously being in the writer mode would create a certain amount of anxiety and urgency in me.

Another adverse impact this had was on my family. I would listen to my daughter half-heartedly, always being in a hurry to finish things off and go sit at my desk. I did not ask for that and needed to change.

So, consciously I started weaning off the all-time-writer mode. I

Why is it important: Switching on to writing mode and coming out of it is essential to give the mind the rest it requires.

5. Segregating the writing part and the writing-related part

So, there is writing- the actual typing of a piece. And there is the paraphernalia of writing. That latter includes our emails, research, reading, hunting for content, and all that.

As I scanned my day, I found some pockets of the day where I was getting longer stretches of free time. That I assigned for writing. That is when I do my fingers dance on the keyboard the most. For me, it’s mostly mornings.

And for the other half, I have kept my evenings. That is when I have smaller windows of opportunities. So, I fit in as much as I can, in short sprints.

What it does: I get both my fronts covered, and I am assured that I have covered all areas.

I rest my case

I quote Burton Rascoe here:

A writer is working when he is staring out of the window.

Once a writer, always a writer. We are one of a kind. No matter what, we have to write — happy, we write; sad, we write; alone, we write; surrounded, we write.

Being able to write is bliss for us. Being able to extract from a day writing-wise, is a windfall. I was successful in doing so with these small changes.

Are you doing anything similar, or different? Let me know!

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