I have a confession to make. I’ve thrown a few of the writing rules out the window. Which ones? Well, let’s go down the list.
1. Turn off everything to focus on your writing. Yeah, tried that. Spun in my chair. Took two hours to write 250 words. Even what I wrote looked bored. Eventually I gave up on that tactic all together. Partly because there’s too much to read and do that I’ve not quite given up on yet. Tumblr, I’m looking at you. Also because I work nights and therefore sleep days, so if I want to talk to friends and game with them online, I have to dedicate half my waking time to that. Leaves fewer hours for chores and bill paying and dog playing.
So while I’m chatting and scrolling through Twitter and Tumblr and reading articles, I also have Scrivener open and either the TV on or Netflix streaming and a couple instant message windows open. And I get my words done quicker. It’s weird. I know. Sometimes it’s because I have the last thirty minutes of my evening before going to work to get my words done, but they get done.
See also: turn off the internet, or use a computer that’s not connected to the internet.
2. Work on one project at a time. As you can see from above, I’m quite used to multitasking. I’m more used to letting a project bubble in the back of my head like the Witch’s cauldron in Brave until that perfect cake comes out of it for my plot/character/issue.
3. This rule depends on whether you’ve read “Around the Writer’s Block” or not. Have separate times for self care, play, and working time. I… tend to do it all at the same time. Take that whole list above and add in knitting and/or playing games. Yes, I’ve knitted while playing World of Warcraft. It takes a long time to fly from point to point! I’ve also put the needles down to flip screens and add a couple sentences then flip back to keep from getting ganked on arrival.
4. Don’t read while you work. Norman Mailer is quoted as only reading the New York Times while he works. I don’t have time for that. In addition to all the above, I have podcasts to listen to at work, and audio books. I also read in the tub or on the web when Twitter and Tumblr don’t have enough to amuse me. The only variation on this rule that I have is that I don’t read during the times I have Scrivener open. Those words are mine and I can’t concentrate on someone else’s work then.
What I don’t go against:
1. Write every day. This I do. The Magic Spreadsheet community keeps me going, and I’ve friended a few other users to share encouragement. I’ve got an 80 day chain now. I’ve leveled up to where I now have a 350 words a day, but I still get them done. Since it’s so close, I often push to get 500. In the same amount of time that I got 250 done in.
2. Edit while I write. I don’t do this, or I’d still be working on chapter one instead of chapter 21. I told myself to write crap and second draft will fix that. Future me might hate me greatly for that crap, but.. she’ll just have to deal with it.
3. Apply butt to chair and do not release until day’s wordage has been done. Despite my multitasking and online life, I have been known to shut it all off in that desperate 30 minutes to get it done. I try to do it earlier, but I don’t yell at myself unless I don’t do it. Then I write at work on breaks and lunch. But I get the words done.
Maybe some day I’ll be able to wean myself off all the distraction and put out a bigger word count, but right now, this is what works. I’m not saying that it’s ok to dump all the hard stuff just so you can goof off. If you don’t get the words done because you’re goofing off, then you need more discipline. All I’m saying is, sometimes you need to distract your anxiety and your hyper critical self to get the words done. And if you work better with distraction, that’s okay too. What counts is the work getting done.