Monday, January 7, 2013

More Time to Write in 2013

Guest Post by Elizabeth Grace Saunders @RealLifeE

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New Year’s Resolution #1: Write More in 2013.
If you’re like most writers, you really want to find more time to practice your art in 2013. But the distance between your resolution and your reality often seems like a span too far to cross and full of detours like writers groups and writers blogs where you talk and read a great deal about writing but rarely put words to the page…
I understand, as a time coach and the author of the newly released book The 3 Secrets to Effective TimeInvestment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress , I’ve lead many a writer through the process of finding more time to write.
The BIGGEST secret to your success is strengthening simple routines that make investing time in writing automatic. Let me tell you a little story about a writer I helped unlock the power of this secret…
Breaking Through Creative Blocks
A few winters ago, I worked with a successful, well-published writer who also taught in a university graduate school Masters of Fine Arts program. She was stuck.
“I am scattered and making erratic progress with this or that. I want to make solid steps forward. I want to reclaim my life and place in the literary firmament, get healthy and in shape, and have fun!”
She also had just been diagnosed with ADHD and was wondering how much of an impact ADHD had on her life-long frustrations with writing and other areas of her life. One of her most important goals was to move forward on her next big creative project–a collection of linked short stories. It had been a long time since her first book had been published, and she needed to regain professional momentum…
“My friends are mostly writers and successful. I have lots of ink in the New York Times that I have written and that has been written about me. So I have talent. I also need to know what I need to do, like a solid schedule? work impulsively? Okay I know the answer to that.”
She did know the answer, but turning the answer into practical action took time coaching… We came up with an initial plan of how she could get in a good, solid, writing time in the morning. Then each week, we worked on assessing the results and evaluating how to move forward based on what happened.
The first writing routine involved: drinking coffee, eating breakfast, taking the dog out, meditating, getting dressed, and then starting to write. The second involved just getting coffee and starting to write. The end result was a fusion of the two with pouring a cup of coffee, meditating a bit, taking out the dog and then writing.
The end goal wasn’t to have this creative writer crammed into a rigid schedule but to have something that turned writing (her top professional priority) from a dreaded activity to a peaceful part of her daily schedule.
Over the course of our work together, she found that if she followed her morning routine and put herself in her writing space for two hours (with a timer set), the inspiration came and the writing moved forward.
  • Writing didn’t need to be something that she dreaded.
  • Writing didn’t need to be something that took over her life.
  • Writing could be something she choose to move forward on each day.
At last! Freedom to do quality work without losing herself, her relationships or her sanity was possible!
“I’ve found that the actual schedule that I longed for would absolutely drive me around the bend so I have a flexitarian schedule and am getting things done.”
“Having and sticking with a schedule is the single most important thing I can do for myself as an artist, as a woman living a rather complex and exciting life, and as someone newly aware that many of my problems stem from having ADHD. Nothing, nothing, nothing will move me forward like following my schedule will. Period.”
A Few Key Points
The same creative freedom could be possible for you. Here are a few key takeaways to get you started:
  • Even if you consider yourself a spontaneous person, some writing rituals can dramatically increase your productivity and decrease your stress. If you loathe this idea, you can find out how to overcome your inner routine rebel in my book.
  • Look at developing custom routines as a process that includes editing. As you saw above, this writer didn’t just have one routine and stick with it. She needed to try out a few iterations until she found one that was exactly the right fit.
  • It’s OK to have a “flexitarian” schedule, meaning that not everything needs to happen with clockwork precision. For instance, this could mean picking a start trigger, such as “after I eat breakfast,” instead of a start time, such as “8 a.m.,” to begin your writing.
  • Focus on consistently following your schedule instead of worrying about constantly being on it. No matter how hard you try, there will be some days when following your writing routine just isn’t possible. Instead of beating yourself up over it, you can simply acknowledge the deviance, forgive yourself if it was due to some fault of your own, and then move on in the realization that the only thing you can control is your decision of the present moment. 
For a comprehensive step-by-step guide to creating your own custom routines, flip to Chapter 7 in The 3 Secrets toEffective Time Investment.
May you enjoy writing more in 2013 by developing, practicing and adjusting your custom routines.
What routines do you have in place to help make investing time in writing as effortless as possible?
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is a time management life coach and the author of  the newly released The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress available on Amazon in hardcover  and kindle .
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