As stated in my previous post, many of us writers find ourselves again and again in that blank, unproductive state where we sit for hours without producing more than a few satisfactory words. This is the post where I crack down on this bad habit with specific methods I’ve learned to use in breaking it.
Now one practice I’ve found effective is rotating projects and consequently taking a turn with each one. I always have several projects going on at once. Take for example, 1) outlining a novel, 2) writing poetry, and 3) writing articles. Often, you’ll find that instead of taking a two to three hour window of time to “write,” allotting yourself small portions of time for very specific objectives can help you be more productive.
Try this: give yourself 30 minutes to work on the novel, 30 minutes to write poetry, and 30 more minutes to type up an article. We’ve broken down that 90-minute time window into three different segments, but if you’re like me, they’re still a little to general to tackle as is. Now specify what you’re going to do with each of these 30-minute sessions. Use your first 5 minutes of novel outlining to brainstorm plot ideas, the next 5 to list character names, 10 to freewrite about what you want your novel to be, and the last 10 to flesh out character sketches. Likewise, break down your poetry session into making lists of rhymes, freewriting subject matter for your verse, and practicing with different meters and forms. For tips on how to write articles when you’re pressed for time, see Jim Estill’s post on How to Write an Article in 20 Minutes.
Especially since getting a job and starting a condensed class schedule this summer, I’ve realized that setting specific goals in narrow spaces of time can help create a more urgent, more focused writing environment and push you on your way toward more efficient writing sessions.
Do you have trouble getting work done in wide or narrow spaces of time? What process do you follow to achieve your attempted word count each day? Leave your thoughts in a comment below.