If you’re a part-time writer with little time to spare and you’re looking for the trick to make the writing process easier, let me say this up front: there is no trick.
That said, as one of GFP’s book coaches, I have worked with many a part-time writer to find a method that, if practiced consistently, allowed him or her to actually produce. And (warning: shameless plug ahead) with my own manuscript deadline fast approaching for Swimming Holes of Washington—to be published by Mountaineers Books in the spring of 2018—I have spent plenty of time thinking about and researching how to make writing quick and easy. No, that is most definitely not a form of procrastination. (OK, you’re right, it is.)
It’s up to you to find a method that works, and by works I mean is the least painful and most productive. Here are some tips from me and the Girls:
Make It Part of Your Routine
Do you always want to brush your teeth? No, of course not. But most of the time you brush anyway because a) you know it’s good for you in the long run and b) you’ve been doing it every day year in and year out. Treat writing the same way—it’s not always fun, and sometimes it feels like a chore, but you do it every day because it’s part of your routine.
Craving a bowl of ice cream, a new pair of shoes, a tropical vacation? “Sometimes I make a deal with myself that if I complete the tasks on time, I can reward myself with something that I enjoy.” —Karen
Take a Walk
“When I’ve been working on a book part-time, I use walks to break up my work (of course, that really only works if you are working at home full-time!). I found that walking helped me switch gears and think about what I would be working on for the next hour or two. Also: work away from home at a café or library, especially if you have kids.” —Kristin
Wake Up at an Ungodly Hour
“I find that waking up ridiculously early—as in 4:30 a.m. early—is the only way I can commit to my endeavors, be they writing or barre-oriented. Needless to say, I do not wake up before dawn every morning, but when I do, it gets the job done and I start my day feeling like I’ve accomplished the impossible.” —Nicole
Make It Bite-Sized
“I set timers for myself when doing tasks I don’t really want to do. And when I’m finished, I am always struck by how much work I’m able to accomplish in the time interval I assign to it. This serves as a good reminder that the task at hand is almost never as bad as I think it will be. Sometimes when I’ve set a timer, when it goes off—if I’m on a roll—I’ll set it again and keep going. The older I get and the more stress I have, I often feel like I have adult ADD, which I don’t. The timer helps me to stay focused.” —Sara
Take a Break
“I turn on the most soothing song ever created (according to Science). The song does not make me sleepy or make me tune out, like the article suggests it might. Instead it helps me focus by helping me relax.” —Michael
Set Ridiculous Goals
“I’m a horrible procrastinator, so giving myself less time forces me into my most productive state. If I have one hour only, I’m like the Tasmanian Devil. If I have five hours, I’m more like Esperanza.” —Meg
“Turn off the wi-fi. Keep it off. It’s so easy to fall down the Internet rabbit hole, and if you’re anything like me, two minutes on Facebook becomes a half hour looking at cute pictures of friends’ pets and reading snarky reviews of a television series you’ve never even watched. Don’t succumb to the desire to “take a break” with the Internet. If you need a break, walk around the house and look for something to tidy. Or try doing something else creative, like drawing—something to simultaneously reset and exercise your brain.” —Emilie
Find Someone to Hold You Accountable
If some big distant deadline isn’t enough, set yourself some smaller ones and find someone who can check in, cajole, or threaten as needed.
Quit Talking/Thinking/Reading About It and Just Frickin’ Do It
Reading this and other blogs like it could perhaps fall into the “distraction” category. So close this and all other windows, open up the document, and write.