After talking about some of the writing habits you need to drop, I think it’s only right that I suggest a few positive habits to replace them. Some of these may take a little more effort than others to master but once you have worked them into your routine, I’m confident you will find the whole process getting easier and easier, while the quality of your work is pushed up to the next notch.
Edit Before You Write… Difficulty: 3/10
Maybe you’re the sort of person who’s fingers hit the keyboard before their bum hits the chair and I really envy your lack of writer’s block. But before you throw yourself into the next chapter, I suggest going back and re-reading, preferably aloud, everything you wrote during the previous session. Being away from your work, even for just a few hours will give you new perspective on your writing and you will be in a far better position to notice your mistakes when a little time has passed.
This has the added bonus of letting you spot gaping plot holes before they become too ingrained in the story and, if you are anything like me, you will benefit from a warm up exercise like this before you start writing.
Get Rid of Common Distractions… Difficulty: 6/10
As I have mentioned, the most productive writers are able to work in any environment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create the perfect writing space in which to do the bulk of your work. Choose an area to transform into your writing studio and make sure it is clear of distractions. This doesn’t have to be a whole room; even just a small desk will do.
As for the things you should get rid of, this will vary from person to person but it’s very likely that you already know what distracts you. It could include your mobile phone, the internet or even that cute little sipping bird desk toy that’s oh-so-hypnotising. Unless it is essential to your work, it doesn’t belong in your writing space. And working on a computer is no excuse to get distracted by the internet, by the way. Use some of the great software out there which will block off access for a given amount of time.
Set a Challenging Word Count Target… Difficulty 8/10
This can be a frustrating method because we all get to a point in a writing session when we begin to think all of our creative juices are gone and we need to go watch TV instead. And while I’m not against taking breaks now and then, I will say that you can push through these moments of distraction and earn yourself a second wind. It’s a little like a runner’s wall.
It’s likely that when you start to lose steam, your writing won’t be as good. You may have to edit or even delete sections all together when you come back to it the next day, but that’s OK. Just the process of writing something, even if it isn’t something you end up using, will benefit you. And after a little while of working to a work count, your stamina will build and you will be able to produce material at your best all the way through.
Delete the Bad Parts… Difficulty 9/10
This leads me to a tough but necessary part of writing; getting rid of stuff that just isn’t up to scratch. When you have spent hours working on a chapter that ends up being only half as good as the rest of the book, the temptation is to keep it anyway rather than lose all of that time. Of course, the ideal solution would be to edit it until it is good enough, but there will come a time now and then when you just have to concede, this isn’t going to work.
A good way to cut from your work with less heartbreak is to keep the removed sections in a “scraps” folder. That way, you know that if you ever change your mind or find a way to make it work, it’s right there waiting for you. And it’s also good to remember, as I have already said, that if you are writing something, you are improving your skills. It was never a waste of time, even if this particular section didn’t make the final cut and you will benefit from that in the long run.
If you enjoyed this article, please click like and follow, and join me again next week when I will be digging further into the world of managing physical space.