I ran a 30-day writing challenge for my meetup group recently. Seeing that my writing output increased, I wanted to keep improving, but I knew I would need a more systematic approach. So I wrote this memo to myself to remind me of all the possible resources I can use. The hardest part of writing is always starting. What helps you kickstart your writing day?
Memo: It’s time for my daily writing session, either at my chair or desk. As I try to conjure my first written words of the day, my mind is blank. Fortunately, I have a system for getting started that never fails, consisting of several tools and methods I use that rev up my writing engine on demand. Here is what I find:
1. An organized file system where ideas are just a touch or click away, in a folder on my desk with articles I’ve saved and printouts of helpful notes and checklists; a computer file where I save ideas while I’m reading online; and a notes app on my phone for ideas that come to me during the day.
2. My journal where I do longhand freewriting to get my brain going every day. Reading some paragraphs I’ve already written, in the style that my thoughts usually flow, is a surefire way to get into my writing groove.
3. My favorite background music on my computer or music player to create the perfect ambiance while I’m writing.
4. My bulletin board above my desk that has positive affirmations, mottos, and pictures of things that inspire me and make me smile.
5. Templates that have headings for the structure of various forms of writing, like blog posts, chapters, articles and essays. My favorite fonts and styles are saved in the templates with keyboard shortcuts. Even if the writing is eventually going to be digital, I know that I benefit from writing with visible formatting.
6. My calendar that shows I’ve been writing every day this week so far. I can’t break the chain. I must write or edit at least two pages. I have a minimum unit of writing, but I can always keep going.
7. A timer already set to how long I do my average writing session, which is 45 minutes. After I finish the session, I can reward myself with a quick break, short walk, or a fresh cup of tea.
8. Although I have a flexible schedule, I still have two alerts on my phone to remind me to do my daily writing sessions, a warm-up session and a working session. I put aside all distractions and open my notebook or laptop when I hear the alerts go off.
9. Lastly, my bedtime is 10 pm, so I can be up by 6, dressed, exercised, and ready to start freewriting at 8 am to plan my writing day. I know that with this daily writing plan in place, tomorrow’s writing will begin with ease and generate consistent results day after day.
I hope you found these tips helpful. For ideas about using writing as a planning and focusing tool, check out my book on kindle, Write for Success: 7 Ways Writing Can Help You Be More Successful in Your Work and Life.