We are coming to the end of the holiday season, which means the end of over-indulgence on food and drink and a return to work and all that accompanies it. Some of you might have worked steadily throughout the holiday season, but most of us took an intentional or unintentional pause and find ourselves looking for ways to get our writing groove back. This post is directed to those people who have taken a break and are ready to get back on the writing wagon.
Rule # 1: Plan First, Write SecondThere are two kinds of writing-related thinking, and they are hard to do at the same time. The first kind revolves around planning what to work on and the second kind is actual execution. Planning ahead makes execution easier. If I sit down at the computer without a plan, I end up spending the better part of my precious writing time figuring out what I am supposed to work on. This inevitably leads to procrastination, and little productive writing. Instead, when I sit down and my planner tells me I am supposed to be enhancing the data section with additional quotes for my article on transnational networks, then I know exactly what to do.
To get back on the writing track, spend some time before your designated writing time planning out exactly which tasks you need to accomplish. Planning your writing tasks ahead of time facilitates the execution of them.
Rule # 2: Designate a specific time as your starting pointSaying that you will write on Monday morning is a good thing. Deciding you will write on Monday morning from 8am to 10am and putting it in your calendar is even better. When you treat your writing time as an important appointment with yourself, you are much more likely to stick to it. Take a good look at your calendar and decide exactly when and where you will begin your writing.
Rule # 3: Make writing a habit by doing it every day at the same timeWhen you sit down and plan out your week, try and find a time that you can dedicate each day of the week to writing. If you get into the groove of writing every day from 7am to 8am, it eventually will become a habit and it will be easier to stick to your writing schedule. If you develop a routine of having coffee every morning and sitting in front of your laptop, eventually, your brain will know that after coffee comes writing. By the same token, if you make your way to a coffeeshop to write after dropping the kids off at school each morning, your brain will begin to recognize this routine.
Rule # 4: Make planning for your week a habit by doing it every weekA weekly plan serves as a roadmap for the week, and it will help you move forward on your writing tasks when you have a better idea as to where you are going and what you have to do to get there. Start this semester off right by making a weekly plan for your first week back at work.
Some people sit down and do their weekly planning meetings on Friday evenings, others on Sunday mornings. It does not matter when you do it, but it does matter that you do it and it helps if you do it at the same time each week.
Taking breaks from writing for holidays, rest, celebration, or any other reason is important and provides much-needed relaxation and renovation. If your break was intentional, congratulate yourself for taking care of your mind and body and preparing yourself for the new year. If your break was unintentional, it likely is the case that your mind and body needed a break and took one for themselves, even as you tried to get them to work. Either way, release yourself from any guilt about what you have not yet accomplished and focus on setting reasonable, achievable writing goals for yourself.
I wish you a productive, happy new year.