Monday, June 11, 2012

Five Ways to Prevent Hectivity (read: Hectic Activity) from Putting a Damper on Your Writing

There is a lot of change happening in my life lately. My oldest is graduating; the other three are getting out of school for the summer; my parents are moving to town (yay!); there are several new faces at work; this weekend we will have a wedding and a memorial service; and... I recently regained all rights to four of my books and decided to self-publish.

I'm sure many of you are facing similar busy seasons in your life. Sometimes it is easier just to bag writing for a time and say, "I'll get back to it later." But below are several tricks to help keep up productivity.

1. Keep your priorities straight. Make sure to spend a little time with God at the beginning of your writing day. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it is amazing how much more work gets done when we take a little time to assess, ask for direction, analyze our life, and then press forward.

2. Be sure to eat healthy. If you are anything like me (I'm mostly a "food is fuel" person), you can be going through your day, get to 2pm and realize you have a screaming headache and then remember that you haven't yet taken the time to eat that day. Try to eat a good breakfast, and make yourself stop for a light lunch. It will help with productivity.

3. Author James Scott Bell first introduced me to the concept of the "fast 500." (That's what I call it, I can't remember his exact term for it.) You might have a ton of things pressing on your mind, but first things first. Hammer out 500 words on your manuscript before you launch into your tasks for the day. This can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes, but if you make it a priority it will go a long ways to keeping up your productivity.

4. Dragon Naturally Speaking is your friend. If you spend a lot of time commuting, like I do, give some thought to DNS. When I have a commute where I'm going to be in the car alone, I will put on my DNS mic and "talk" my story. On my 25 minute commute, I can sometimes get 1,500 words written. Granted they are bad, and need a ton of editing because DNS isn't yet perfect at picking up every word I say, but it is a starting point for me to work from later.

5. Give yourself a break! If you have a day where you simply can't get to your writing, don't sweat it. But also, don't let failure to meet your writing goals one day discourage you from getting right back at it the next.

What about you? What tricks keep you writing amidst hectivity?
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16 comments:

  1. Perhaps I should create myself a list on how to prevent hectivity from making you type in the wrong date when you schedule your post. :p Sorry this is late. I wondered why no comments, came by and it hadn't posted - I'd scheduled it to go up tomorrow! Okay, now I'm off to graduation.

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  2. Enjoy graduation!
    I had to take the summer off reviews for other people so I could catch up my own tbr pile. Only 38 physical books, and I'm not telling the amount of Kindle books. Course I borrowed two more from the library tonight. One's for a book club...really.

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    1. I hear ya! There are so many books and manuscripts that I *must* read that I have very little time for what I *want* to read.

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    2. Sounds like bliss! :D I love to read!

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  3. Love Jim's idea about "fast 500." I can do that.

    Someone else gave me the idea of setting a timer for when I'm doing online chores like answering emails and networking, etc. I allot myself an hour or two for this, but it's so easy to get carried away and go over time. Setting a timer keeps me on track.

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    1. That's a really great idea about the timer. I do that for household chores too - keeps me from stressing about getting everything perfect. Sometimes you just have to live with things the way they are. :)

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  4. I've been working with what Julia Cameron calls "morning pages." It's a creativity tool. Three pages of mind dump without lifting pen from paper. Yes, pen. Or pencil if that rocks your boat. I might end up with a to-do list, some meditative thoughts, some words or phrases that flow well together, weather reports, descriptions, fears, worries, stuff I hadn't expected. It's supposed to out my bed head so I can focus on what I *need* to do.

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    1. Sometimes in the car I write by hand (if my husband is doing the driving! ;p). But I don't know that I would have the patience for that. I can type so much faster than I can write. :)

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    1. I love lists. So great to be able to check stuff off at the end of the day.

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  6. Thanks, Lynnette. Very good post.

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  7. Excellent post and good pointers to help stay in control under pressure.

    How about sleeping? I make sure I go to bed at a reasonable time (around midnight) and have at least 7 hours of sleep!

    Better yet, do as the Italians do (I live in Rome): take a nap after lunch, 20 minutes sleep or rest in bed will make all the difference, believe me (I do nap, the famous "siesta")!

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    1. Sleep is a very important point, Claude. Thanks for bringing it up. Our brains just don't function as they should when they are sleep deprived. 7-8 hours a night, and if you can fit in a nap, I say go for it. :)

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  8. Congrats on the graduation! I'm gearing up for another busy summer (aren't they all?), so this is timely for me. Ultimately, I think the key is the one about keeping our priorities straight. If we can do that, most of the rest of the stuff seems to fall into place.

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    1. Thanks, Katie. And yes, so true about the priorities.

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