If you’re a part-time author, you’ve got a lot of things on your plate. You’ve got your day job, of course. Then there are family obligations, what you do for recreation, and any volunteer work you do.
Writing time is scarce. You must make the best of it. The only way to do that is to throw all your mental energy into writing when it’s time to write. Here’s how.
Same Time, Same Place
Write in the same place at the same time, all the time. This helps establish a writing habit that says to your brain, “It’s time to write.” There’s a bonus. If you write in the same place at the same time, all the time, the people who love you will let you write.
Lighten Your Cognitive Load
Your brain, like any other muscle, gets tired if it has too much to do. Make things easy on your brain. Automate as many decisions and processes as you can. Arrange your work the same way every time and you won’t have to think about that, either.
Distractions are the devil. You want to write in the largest continuous chunk of time you can. For most people, that’s somewhere around 50 minutes before you take a break. Any distraction breaks up your pattern and forces you to go through a restart when you turn back to writing.
Shut off your phone. Warn your kids of the grave dangers of disturbing you, then close the door. One client of mine had a separate computer that she used only for writing. It only had writing files on it and had no internet connection.
Know Where You’re Going to Start
You should be able to get right into writing, and the only way to do that is to know exactly where you will start. Ernest Hemingway and many other great writers have done that. One, John Barth, even suggests stopping in the middle of a sentence. Whether or not you go that far, end every writing session with a plan for precisely what you will do the next time.
Develop Pre- and Post-Session Rituals
It’s all part of the writing habit. Do the same things every time you write. My pre-start ritual includes starting my work playlist. Create a post session ritual. It should include planning for the next session and any work you should do between now and then.
Do everything you can between session so you can get right into writing next time and write steadily. Do your research. Order your supplies and put them where they’re supposed to be.
You’ll do your best work if you throw your full mental energy into writing at every writing session. Establish the writing habit, same time, same place. Make as many decisions as you can automatic. Eliminate distractions. Do what you must between sessions so you can start strong.