There’s plenty of writing tips and advice that show you how to write better. This blog is about some things that will help you as a writer but not while you’re writing. There are eight of them.
A Door You Can Close
For most of us, writing is a solitary activity. We do better when we’re alone and undistracted. Having a door you can close is the single biggest thing you can do to get the privacy you need. Remember to close it.
A Way to Capture Ideas
If you’re like most human beings, you get ideas all the time. Many of those ideas will help you write better. They’ll give you creative ways to solve your writing problems. But you won’t be able to use your ideas unless you capture them.
Ideas are fleeting. No matter how good they are, you probably won’t remember them even a few moments later. So, make sure you have a way to capture your ideas and later review them.
I use a simple digital voice recorder that fits in my shirt pocket. It’s an Olympus WS-853. I also use index cards for times, like in church, when it’s not a good idea to speak out loud. Other people use notebooks and blank sheets of paper. Find what works for you then capture those great ideas you’re sure to get.
An Idea File
Remember those ideas you captured? Well, they need to go someplace where you can work with them. Many of the ideas you get won’t be about a specific project you’re working on at the time. So, keep a file of your ideas. You can type them on paper or put them in a computer file. It doesn’t matter. I think of them as “compost.”
A Box for Writing Project Stuff
When you work on a book or a long-form article, there’s usually a lot of source material and references you want to use. Some of them may be too large to fit in a file folder. That’s why you need a box for every project. You can put books, product samples, and other helpful resources in the box. Once they’re in the box, you don’t need to worry about them until you need them.
A Place to Put Your Phone
We love our phones but sometimes they can be a distraction. Writing is one of those times. So, shut off your phone, but don’t stop there. Put your phone in another room so it’s out of sight.
A Writing Playlist
Music is a great way to block out distracting sounds and get your brain in a good writing rhythm. My writing playlist is mostly baroque and all instrumental. Songs with words or songs I know the words of distract me. Your playlist doesn’t need to be like mine. It can be anything that helps you.
Here’s a tip. If you find yourself stopping to listen to the music, it’s probably not the right thing for a writing playlist.
Checklists and Reminders
Why spend precious mental energy remembering routine things you need to do? Get all that remembering out of your mind.
Use checklists and reminders rather than your memory. That frees up mental energy for writing and other productive things.
Writing rituals can help you start a writing session more effectively. They can help you shift from the enchanted world of writing to the regular world of experience.
Develop rituals to start and end your sessions. Develop rituals for dealing with writer’s block. Some people like to enshrine their rituals in checklists. Do whatever works for you.
Have a door you can close. Then, close it.
Develop a way to capture your good ideas.
Create an idea file where you can put the ideas you get that aren’t immediately useful.
Have a box for writing project stuff that’s too big for a file.
Turn off your phone then store it in a different room.
Create a writing playlist to block out distractions and get you in a good writing rhythm.
Use checklists and reminders to conserve precious mental energy.
Develop rituals for beginning a writing session, dealing with writer’s block, and wrapping up a session.