For whatever reason, it's not as easy as one would think to sit down and write. I mean, all you need is a pen and paper, or a keyboard, right?
You could get a lot of writing done if you add up all these extra bits of time (yes, they really do exist)... The 10 minutes before your next client call. The 15 minutes before you have to start dinner. The 5 minutes while the kids are getting ready for bed. The 20 minutes (I'm being optimistic here) you're waiting in the doctor's office.
But you don't. And it's because effort is involved. It's not as simple as checking your email. Think about it. You check your email. You quickly read the latest RSS feed, and you delete. Boom! You've read something (yay, you're intelligent), and you've deleted an item out of your inbox (and you're productive to boot!). And then you might actually forward it to a client (now, you get to add being thoughtful and even more intelligent to the list of things you've accomplished.)
Writing is rarely that default activity. If you do get that unlikely extra bit of time, or you have a spare five minutes in between activities, you don't head straight for the pad and pen; you do something quick and easy and that gives you that little jolt of achievement.
How do you make writing a default activity, or at least get it closer?
First, identify your default activities. Mine is definitely email. Check my email and see if I can handle a few and maybe, just maybe, get my inbox down to 0.
Once you know why you're heading toward that email inbox or the filing cabinet or the unwashed dishes, you can then consciously decide if you want to indulge or not.
Next, what is it about that default activity that feeds something inside you? What are you trying to fill up? For me, again with the email, it's that black hole of "Surely I can get everything on my list done today and have nothing left to do. Then I can rest easy." I have to constantly work against that mistaken belief. So, a more positive and productive action is to list what I *have* accomplished, instead of what is left undone.
Third, design ways to set yourself up for easy. When I'm done quilting for the day, I try to leave things so that it's easy to pick up again next time. I've had it happen that I've made a mistake - just when I was getting ready to stop - and I make sure I fix it because I don't want the first thing I have to do the next time I come back to quilting is to fix a mistake. I want to start clean.
How do you do that with writing?
1. Stop writing in the middle of a sentence. Just leave it undone. Then, not only do you have an easy place to start up, you might be even more motivated to come back.
2. Write questions about the next stage in your writing. That way, when you come back, the first thing you're doing is answering those questions. You don't have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out where to go next.
3. If you're using an outline or a mindmap, mark where on that outline or mindmap you'll be starting up. So, like with the questions in #2, you have a handy reference for where to start.
4. Leave your writing out. If it's a notepad, leave it on the kitchen table. If it's on a computer, leave the document up on the screen. Not only is it out as a reminder (and you might actually stop by a few times during the day and add a bit here and there), but there's no prep work. You're ready to go at a moment's notice.
5. Have inspirational reminders about what you're working on around you. If it's in your everyday consciousness, you'll be more likely to want to write. Use pictures, images, mindmaps, index cards on a bulletin board, quotations about writing... whatever is going to inspire you and make writing the want-to-do activity instead of the have-to-do activity.
6. Make shameless use of external motivators. If you're proud of your blog traffic, print out a graph of recent traffic to motivate you to keep writing. If people have written to tell you how much they love your articles and how helpful they are, post those around you.
7. Set up accountability check-ins. Tell a friend or loved one that you'll be writing tomorrow at 2:00pm and set up a time that you'll call her with a progress report. Better yet, join a writer's group or writer's workshop. When other people are involved, you're much more likely to do the activity.
How can you set yourself up for easy in writing? Leave a comment below - I'd love to hear your ideas!