Do you recognize yourself in this?
I find reading and research comfortable. The writing scares me. (Not note-taking, obviously.) I tell myself I need to read more.
— Liana Silva (@literarychica) March 16, 2011
This is what inspires my work: smart people who are finding it difficult to do the thing they do.
You have something to contribute but in order to do that you need to write.
Writing is a habit
The more you write the easier it is to write. And the better your writing becomes.
Like any habit, you can develop it.
- Designate a space to write in.
- Designate a time to write.
- Do the same things before you write.
At first, it will feel forced, uncomfortable. But there will be a point where it will become more automatic.
The fact that it is 8 a.m., you’ve finished your breakfast and have a fresh cup of coffee will start to trigger getting up and going to your writing space and writing. (Note: your time and pre-writing activities may differ from those shown
on the box in this example.)
Until getting up and going to your designated writing space at your designated time feels like the normal and obvious thing to do, your goal is to develop a habit of writing.
Don’t worry about what you write. Just write.
You deserve a space that feels comfortable to write in. Inspiring even.
If you need help figuring out what that means for you, I highly recommend the Wish Kit from Inspired Home Office. In it, Jennifer Hofmann asks questions that help you see what kind of environment works best for you and help you take small steps to get there.
I used it when I set up my own office. And my daughter used it to think about her workspace (we homeschool) and her bedroom.
You don’t need lots of time, you need good quality time. When do you work best? Are you writing in that time slot? Why not?
Some people find writing daily even for 15 or 30 minutes works. Other people work better with longer time periods less frequently. Figure out what works for you and then build the habit of doing that. You might want to (re)read this post on finding time for writing.
15 minutes a day will yield results. But not if it’s the 15 minutes at the end of the day when you are tired and hungry, with a toddler demanding your attention. (If you don’t know when your best time is, Charlie Gilkey has a free tool for figuring out your most productive time. Scroll down to “Productivity Heat Map”.)
Your pre-writing activities
The things that lead to writing should be warm up activities.
- eat something healthy
- make coffee/tea, pour yourself a glass of water
- do yoga (even 3 poses)
- do some stretches
- go for a run/walk
- put on your writing costume (you get to decide what that is: feather boa anyone?)
You might find this post on writing rituals inspiring, too.
Finding it hard to protect your writing time?
You are not alone. It’s like exercise. Some people can make a commitment to exercise, figure out what they’ll do, and do it regularly at home, by themselves. Personally, if I don’t sign up for a class, I don’t do it. The Academic Writing Studio is like a yoga studio for academic writers: A Meeting With Your Writing provides synchronous classes to help you keep your commitment to write regularly, other resources help you set priorities and boundaries so writing fits into your schedule, and electronic forums provide community support. Join us.
This series of post originally published in March 2011. Edited May 30, 2016.