I started a daily writing challenge with my writing group recently and after winding up the 30 days, I noticed a few things. My writing output had increased by about 50%, but I wasn’t particularly methodical in my writing routine. I’m an organized person by most standards, but I now felt that I wanted to be a lot more organized. Seeing my tangible progress made me to want to increase my writing output, which I knew would require a more systematic approach. So I wrote this little memo to myself, to remind me of all the potential and actual resources I can make use of. Maybe you have something that helps you get started writing, or you can try one of these techniques.
The appointed hour comes when you go to your desk to write. However, your mind is blank as the screen in front of you. Fortunately, you have a system for getting started that never fails, consisting of several tools and methods that will rev up your writing engine at will. Here is what you will find:
1. An organized file system where ideas are just a touch or click away: a) a folder on your desk with articles you’ve saved and printouts of assorted helpful notes and checklists; b) a computer file where you save ideas while you’re reading, including links to review; c) a notes app on your phone for ideas that come to you during the day.
2. Your favorite background music on your computer to play while you’re writing or a spotify playlist on your phone.
3. Templates that have headings for the structure of various forms of writing, like blog posts, chapters, articles and essays. Also, your favorite fonts and styles are saved in the templates with keyboard shortcuts. Even if the writing is eventually going to be digital, you know you benefit from writing with visible formatting.
4. Your journal or notebook where you do longhand freewriting to get your brain going every day. Reading some paragraphs you’ve already written, in the style that your thoughts usually flow, is a surefire way to get into your writing groove.
5. Your bulletin board above your writing desk that has positive affirmations, mottos, and pictures of things that lift your mood and make you smile.
6. Your calendar that shows you that you’ve written every day this week so far. You can’t break the chain. You must write or edit at least two pages. Is that all, you think? No problem, you can always keep going.
7. A timer already set to how long you do your average writing sessions, which is 45 minutes. After you finish your session, you can reward yourself with a quick break, short walk, or a fresh cup of tea.
8. Although you may cling to a semi-flexible schedule, you still have two alerts on your phone to remind you when your warm-up session and your working session are supposed to start. You’re already conditioned to put aside all distractions and open your notebook or laptop whenever you hear the alerts go off.
9. And one last thing – your bedtime is 11 pm or sooner, so you can be up by 7 am, dressed, meditated, and ready to start freewriting at 8 am to plan your writing day. Stick to your writing plan and you’ll see more consistent results.
I hope you found these tips helpful. For some ideas about using writing as a planning and focusing tool, you can also check out my book on kindle, Write for Success: 7 Ways Writing Can Help You Be More Successful in Your Work and Life.