Saturday, August 27, 2011

Make Time for Writing Every Day

One of the best ways to become a prolific writer is to write every day.

If you write every day, you will make progress on your manuscripts, you will become a better writer, and it will become easier for you to write. Scheduling your writing into your calendar will ensure you make time for writing every day.

Yes, I mean, literally, take out your calendar for next week and set aside a specific time for writing every day. I am sure you are a very busy person with many responsibilities. However, if you are reading this blog, then you likely are looking for ways to be more productive. And, one of the best ways to become more productive is to schedule your writing time and treat it just like any other appointment. Here is how.

Schedule writing every day.

Take a look at your schedule for next week and figure out when you might have between 15 minutes and two hours to write every day for five days a week. Spending at least 15 minutes a day with your manuscript means that it will always be fresh in your mind. Deciding now exactly when you will write will ensure that you actually make the time to do it.

Schedule at least 15 minutes a day.

If you think that there is absolutely no way you could make any progress in 15 minutes, I encourage you to try to think of something you could do in 15 minutes. For example, I imagine you could proofread your introduction, free write, update your references, or revise a footnote in 15 minutes. On a previous blog I listed “Seven Ways You Can Write Every Day.”

Don't schedule more than two hours at a time.

I also suggest that you do not schedule your writing for more than two hours at a time. If you do have a day with no other obligations, it is likely more productive to schedule two hours of writing, followed by two hours of reading than to try to schedule four hours of writing. After reading and writing for four hours, schedule in a long break that involves food and exercise and try to go in for another round. Alternatively, you can take the afternoon off, knowing that you have just had a very productive morning!

Treat writing like any other appointment.

Treating writing like any other appointment means that, if you have scheduled writing from 8am to 9am on Monday, and someone asks you to meet at that time, that you have to say, “No, I can’t meet at 8am, how about we meet at 9am?” You, after all, will be very busy from 8am to 9am, working on your manuscript. If you are nervous about claiming you are busy when you are “just” writing, keep two things in mind: 1) If you are at a research university, writing is part of your job; and 2) It is quite unlikely that any of your colleagues will actually ask you what you are doing when you tell them that you cannot meet at a particular time.

So, go ahead, take out your calendars, and schedule between 15 minutes and two hours of writing into your week next week. I have!

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