Our latest Finishing School session wrapped up this week. Another session starts this coming Wednesday. Five weeks in a row, authors met to share their practices, intentions, and honest talk about how things broke up or got sidetracked. There’s a lot of power in a group effort that supports the writing habit. One writer in our last group called the life of authors “a cult.” We all smiled, knowing how easy it is to slip out of the cult’s clutches by ourselves.
We share tricks and practices in our one-hour meetings at 12:30 Central. They’re just reports on what we attempted. Nobody’s teaching or assuming that their experience works for everybody. Over the years, keeping the pen and keys moving has been a constant challenge for me. Here’s ten things I have tried to keep writing.
1. Use the pomodoro method to break writing into chunks of time with a rest built in. Write 25, rest 5 is a good start, and the world is full of free timers to put onto your phone that help. You can do anything for 25 minutes. Even 15-3 gets a lot of words onto a blank page.
2. Choose your architecture by removing distractions. I’m looking at you, Web access. Airplane mode helps. Close your door, or repair to the back porch.
3. Use freewriting to clear blocks. Even retyping the work of others can break things loose. Get those things out of your notebooks.
4. Use traffic-light scheduling on your calendar. Lay out stretches of red (cannot write) yellow (maybe writing time) and green (nothing stopping you). Tell your tribe and friends about your green times, so they’ll help you keep them green.
5. Use a tiny goal: Just this one sentence. One paragraph. One page.
6. Think daily: Keep your streak alive on a calendar. Some call this the Seinfeld Strategy, because the comedian uses it. Pick a task that is meaningful enough to make a difference, but simple enough that you can get it done. He wrote a joke, which added to a set.
7. Attach writing to an existing behavior. I always make my tea and then go to the keyboard next, for example. Or you walk the dogs and then write.
8. Increase your level of minutes or words per session. Climb slowly, so you can stay moving.
9. Track your writing times and practices. Observation without judgement helps you see where you succeed—and where opportunity lies for more work.
10. Get an accountability buddy pulling for you. This method makes you an Encourager—because all you need to do is respond “good job!” when your buddy texts you, “I’m working now.”