New Methods to Shake Up Old Writing Habits
March 15, 2021
Remember about a month and a half ago when I finished my last book and I was trying to channel all my productive momentum into the next project? Well, I failed. I stumbled around, flailing my arms, jumping from project to project, trying to stave off “the crash” but, inevitably, the crash came. I was mentally and creatively exhausted. I would start projects and then stare blankly into space, my mind refusing to budge beyond the vaguest of plans. I could do research fine but implementing creativity wasn’t working. But I kept fighting it! I thought, if I just keep plugging away it will all click eventually. But it didn’t. Finally, I had a long hard talk with myself and… took a break.
Whew! I feel so much better.
Now I’m ready to get back into the game. However, I realize I may need to shake things up a bit. This pandemic year has instilled some good habits and some bad habits. (Thank you James Clear!) At this point in my writing journey, I’m good about sitting down to write at least once a day, every day. However, I’m great at playing stupid crap on my phone ten times a day! This seems like it should be flipped, no?
So, I’m trying something a little new. (Besides the whole plotting thing. I’m still working on that.) First, I set a timer on my phone for 20 minutes. I’ve realized I can get a lot done in 20 minutes chunks. I can do a laundry. I can paint a little. I can write 200-300 words. AND I feel satisfied by what I did in those 20 minutes, too! Therefore, 20 minutes of game play on my phone should be plenty. I’m also resolving to not play anything on my phone until the evening.
Second, I set up four alarms on my phone. Four times a day a special alarm rings and I sit down to write. It doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I’m writing. Four times I show up at my computer. Four times a day that should work with all my zoom schedules. For instance, I generally have meetings at 11:00, 4:00, or 6:00(ish). I set up alarms for 10:00, 12:00, 3:00, and 7:00. I’m writing this during my 12:00 slot right now. 7:00 has traditionally been my go-to writing time. 10:00 will make me take a shower sooner (damn you, pandemic schedule)! (I mean, that didn’t work out today, I’m still in my pajamas, but in theory it should.) 3:00 is to work through the afternoon slump.
Yes, I realize this will take discipline, and I might not make all four writing slots every day, but 2-3 times is still more than once, right? What I’m really hoping for is that I’ll hear the alarm and it will build the desire to write/be creative over picking up my phone. I know, I know, cold turkey doesn’t generally work, but I’m both highly motivated AND I’m at the point where I sick to death of every game on my phone except one, so I figure the opportunity is there. Fingers crossed.
What kind of changes do you make when you really need to shake things up?