I talked about positive triggers last week. I generally find that once I sit down to write, I can write something. But I’ve fallen off the writing horse more than a few times, so sometimes just getting into the saddle and putting my fingers to the keyboard can be a huge struggle. Creating a time slot, and having alternatives can be essential to creating a daily habit of writing.
First, let me get the negative out of the way. Know what your time-wasting triggers are. For me, if I check the mail, I’m out of the writing mode unless I can somehow majorly re-set my day (for example, I could take a nap, or change my venue). I have found that I can read – and it’s especially helpful if I’m reading materials that are tangential to what I’m writing. Too close, and I pick up another writer’s voice. Too far, and I start pursuing other thought-bunnies. But email? No matter how many times I tell myself I’m going to write “later,” it doesn’t seem to happen. And I often tell myself that I’m just “warming up” my fingers, which is a great theory but never works out in practice. For me, email has to be the reward for putting in a good writing session or two, not the prelude.
Email gets me because it’s a quick reward and leads me down the path of other quick rewards (checking the blog, checking someone else’s blog, checking to see if Dear Abby has anything pertinent to my life or my novel . . .). The thing is, writing is a reward, too – but it does take a short lag time to get into the flow, to get into the reward zone. And the five or fifteen minutes of misery that precedes The Flow can be really tough to overcome.
This video has some hints for winning free from the instant gratification of other things to get to the big prize of seeing a really good sentence or a super scene come together. Do it now, set deadlines that make you see the sense of doing it now, enjoy the process, make a list of reasons why you want to do this, and make sure your motivation is there.
And, oh yeah, remove the temptations.
Another little trick that sometimes helps me is remembering that if I really have time to do an hour of emailing, and an hour of writing, it doesn’t matter which way I do it. I’ve scheduled a place for both, so do the writing first. It’ll lead to longer term satisfaction.
The big thing is to just do it. Do it first. Do it now.