Butt in chair. You know it’s mandatory to hit those deadlines and get your work done. But, what determines when you’re going to ease into that cozy seat behind the keyboard?
A time block on a calendar?
A feeling of worry over a looming deadline?
Yeah, all of those have been on my list at one point or another. Over time I find that this method of getting my rear in gear (Maybe that’s a Midwest saying? I’m not sure.) sometimes leads to poor productivity and writing that need a little extra elbow grease when it comes to editing and polishing before submission.
So, what’s a writer to do?
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Preparing for a Writing Session
Work needs to get done, whether it’s for a client, to market your business or simply fulfill your wordy cravings. The answer is to prepare. Being intentional with the time before I’m scheduled to write has had a dramatic impact on my mental clarity while composing, leading to cleaner first drafts and less mental energy spent on the task itself, which means I don’t end my day feeling knock-down, drag-out exhausted.
I’ve written in the past about what I do before I sit down at my desk. You can read that in How I Find My Creative Flow for Optimal Writing. The point of this post is to actually do it and why. Prepare to write in whatever way makes sense for you. Over the years I’ve:
- Taken a walk to clear my mind
- Cleared out my email inbox to reduce anxiety
- Worked out at the gym to release physical tension
- Drafted a fun, easy post for my lifestyle blog to warm up my writing chops for paid client work
Non-Work Activities Count, Too
Lately, I’ve been reminding myself that what happens during non-working hours also affects the writing process. If you spend your free time doing things that inspire you with ideas (reading, spending time in nature, having intelligent discussions) you’re more ready to write.
“However, as a wordsmith who appreciates the lyrical quality of well-written prose, you should take the opportunity to read good books that nurture your soul. Set a time each day to read for pleasure, even if you have to borrow from your writing time. Good literature can inspire you to become a better writer, but that’s not why you should read it. Read it to become a better person.” ~ NY Book Editors
On the flip side, if you’re not taking care of your mental or physical health, you might be on autopilot just marking hours off each day, and when it’s time to write your mental focus is lacking and your physical body is sore or twitchy and unable to relax into your chair. It’s difficult to exude creativity when you’re in emotional or physical pain.
“Physical activity stimulates brain chemicals that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed, providing an emotional lift and reducing stress,” staff at Amherst College explains on their website. And that stress reduction is exactly what you need to get into writing mode.
Find what works for you and keep at it.
The more prepared you are to do the creative work, the easier it flows, and you and I both know that’s such a good feeling. I’d personally rather spend my morning walking my dog for an hour and completing a solid first draft in an hour, than rolling out of bed, plopping down at my desk and stumbling through a draft for two hours, wondering if it’s any good and knowing it’s going to take an hour later to tighten up the loose bits.
How do you prepare to write?
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