Writing and The Curse of Busyness

Apr 7, 2020 | Better Writing

It’s always been tough to find time to write. It’s even harder when you’re trying to keep your head while everyone about you seems to be losing theirs. It’s harder when things are suddenly different than they used to be.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world for most of us. You must overcome new challenges and reinvent the way you work. In normal times, busyness and small, unimportant things can drive out big, important things.

In the Time of Coronavirus, there are more threats to your productivity than ever. Here’s how to get your writing done.

Time Is Finite, Things to Do Are Infinite

You either use time or you lose it. You can’t save up time to use later. It’s easy to fill your time with small but unimportant things. They may make you feel good. They may even make you a better person. What they won’t do is get your writing done.

Schedule Time to Write

You’re more likely to get time to write if you schedule it. Try to get the largest possible block of uninterrupted time. An hour is good. An hour and a half is better. Half a day may be better still. Think of it as an appointment with yourself.

Remember the Raymond Chandler Rule. I named it for the mystery and screenwriter. It’s based on advice he gave to a friend.

When it’s time to write, you don’t have to write. The catch is that you can’t do anything else.  There’s no doing research or watching cat videos or straightening up the office. Write or nothing. If it’s nothing, just sit there. You’ll write soon enough.

Diving in Is A Better Way

Too many writers start to prepare to begin to get ready to think about writing. Don’t do it. Dive in. A prestart ritual will help you.

Know precisely what you’re going to do. The only way you can do that is to decide at the end of your previous session what you’re going to do in the next session. If you know exactly what to do, you can dive in and do it. That gives you momentum to keep going.

From the Mundane to The Magical

Your challenge is to go from the mundane world of little, unimportant things to the magical world of important writing. That’s a lot like the hero in Joseph Campbell’s monomyth.

If you can manage it, write in the same space every time. Your brain will get used to writing in that space. Shut out interruptions. If you have a door, close it. Turn off your phone.

Develop a prestart ritual. Start every writing session the same way every time. You’re training your brain to know when it’s time to write.

Bottom Line

The curse of busyness has always been a challenge. It’s a bigger challenge in the time of coronavirus and changing work situations. Be efficient about your writing. Schedule a time to write in the biggest blocks you can manage. Dive right in at the beginning of a session. First, use your prestart ritual to shift to the magical world of writing. Then, know what your first step will be and get right to it.

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