Writer’s Relief Café Live Q& A Event: Finding Time to Write



hi welcome to our latest writers relief cafe question and answer session today we're going to be talking about finding time to write how to avoid procrastination and distractions and make the most of your writing time we're erin and carol from writer's relief and we invite you to post questions during the event and we'll try to answer as many as we can we have some questions that people have already posted that we'll address after we've given a brief overview if we run out of time we'll answer your questions after the event in the comment section so be sure to keep keep an eye out for that because we'll be trying to address everyone's questions and at the end of the event we're gonna tell you how you can get your free goal-oriented writers guide and while you're watching if you want to just go ahead and tell us where you're watching from we might give you a shout out alright so first we're going to talk about dealing with distractions and procrastinating first is how to avoid distractions and Erin is going to give us a little bit of information on on how to deal with distractions so I think most of us can agree that one of the biggest distractions that pops up is social media especially in this day and age so I've noticed when I'm writing that I have to turn my notifications off on my phone because if I just keep seeing them pop up I'm really tempted to check them some sometimes that will work for people other people will limit their social media time to a certain amount of time you know 5 minutes 15 minutes whatever and then you're done and you have to go right you can set limits in different ways whatever works for you if you want to do a chunk of time or if you want to write for a half an hour and then give yourself five minutes you want to shut it off completely you just kind of have to find what works for you but if you don't have it constantly popping up it will definitely help you not be distracted by it you also want to try and set time limits for distractions that don't seem like distractions and that can include things that are maybe related to your writing but are not the actual act of writing so talking about research editing maybe even critiquing other people's work reading all of those things are easy to kind of write off as working but if you're not actually writing you're not writing so you want to set limits for those things too if you've been researching your project for a couple months and you haven't written any of it then your research is just kind of turning into a distraction at that point so again the limits that you set for yourself on these things are going to depend upon you your own project but you just want to be careful that you know you're not spending ten hours editing in one hour writing or 20 hours researching and no time writing that's right what Aaron saying is important because if you've written something obviously your first draft that's going to require a lot of editing but if you notice that you were continually editing and never moving on with work that might be something you have to address if you're on your tenth draft your 20th draft and you still don't think the work is finished you are you really refining it still or are you procrastinating there's something they say in the art world when you're painting something it's done right before you think it's done that might be something to consider with your writing as well if you've noticed you've been editing it for several times several go rounds it's done even if maybe you don't think it's done it may be time to move on and start submitting your work do you have any other things to add about distractions Aaron um no I don't think so we do have an article on our blog that kind of talks about some of these distractions and how and when they turn into distractions and we're gonna go ahead and post a link to that in the comment section for you guys so you can read through it another common distraction that we're all going to be guilty of is reading we all like three-d– we're writers we love the written word and we like to read books during your writing time as as Aaron mentioned all you should be doing is writing you have to disconnect all the other distractions turn off the phone put the way your cell phone TV is off the kids are busy doing something else and you can't pick up a book and just read for five minutes because we all know those five minutes are gonna turn into half an hour and then your reading time is gone so that's another sneaky kind of distraction that seems very innocent to us writers but you have to make sure that your writing time is just for writing yeah I will also say with the reading one it's not even just books sometimes if I'm writing an essay I'll think about another essay that I've read that kind of is connecting that and I'm like oh man what did she saying that and then I find that I've spent 20 minutes reading a 13-page I say that I did not need to read also you know a shout-out to we have someone from Boston we have someone from Canada yeah international listeners so welcome to the cafe into our little event here all right the next thing we also want to talk about is how to stop procrastinating so once you've eliminated distractions you have to now get down to the business of writing so you have to banish your inner perfectionist just for now when you're writing don't write it and then write two sentences and wonder if maybe that isn't good maybe the punctuation is incorrect what about the grammar just right for now you want to get through your a lot of time whether you've allowed yourself an hour 15 minutes half a day you want to get through that time writing editing proofreading that can happen later you can fix your work later but put something down on the paper you don't want to just have a blank paper you also want to say realistic goals for yourself you don't want to say oh I'm going to come home from work and then I'll write for three hours if you also have laundry to do bills to pay kids that you need to move in car pools that's not going to happen even if you're only going to write for 15 minutes a day and you feel that is realistic and you can do it that's better than saying I'm going to write for two hours it doesn't make you less of a writer because you only spent 15 minutes a day or maybe you can't write it all during the week but on the weekends you can sit and have two hours every Saturday that you know you can write that's fine too whatever works for you you have to have a realistic goal because if you're coming home from work on a Wednesday and you've said that you're going to write for two hours and you're exhausted you're not going to do it and you're just going to keep procrastinating you're not going to even try a little bit you'll do nothing so set your goals as realistic ones that you can keep if you have a big project that you're working on say you want to finish a short story in a month or finish your book in six months or a year break down your goals into small attainable goals if you're going to write your story in a month how many words a day do you need to complete if you're writing a book over a year how many chapters each month do you need to be doing so that you have it written by the end of the year have small deadlines that you can accomplish and that'll help you not to procrastinate because it won't seem as as big a project some people find doing the worst task first is what helps them to stay motivated and not procrastinate if you do the part that you don't like the research or perhaps the editing what you wrote yesterday if you do that first and get it out of the way then you can spend more time doing the part you like the actual writing other people like to do their favorite part first and then go on to the harder more time-consuming and this can work for you too if that's what you like if you like to do something and you know you're going to do it and get it done it's another thing that you can mark off as having accomplished and anytime you accomplish something that helps you to overcome that urge to procrastinate we do have an article on our blog that you may find helpful that also has other tips about some ideas on how to stop procrastinating and we'll follow up with a link in the comment section also if you're trying to deal with procrastination I think one of the most important things is having goals but also having a routine when you're writing and those kind of tied together you know if your goal is to write for 15 minutes every day or like Carol said two hours every Saturday but if you have a regular routine that you try to stick to it's gonna be a lot easier and you know if you hit your goals or if you have spent a month following your writing routine treat yourself give yourself a reward like a little snack go for a walk watch a favorite TV show just some sort of positive reinforcement so that you feel good about the fact that you've met your goals or stayed on track and another big problem with procrastination is a lot of people will call it writer's block if you're you know you've eliminated your distractions you're sitting down you're ready to write for your hour and nothing is coming out your brain is kind of jumbled or you just can't think of anything you just feel like you can't write free writing can be really helpful rather than trying to force yourself to you know I'm gonna write this chapter right now you can just try free writing which is like a stream of consciousness writing about the idea or the characters or whatever you're writing about and we also have an article on our blog about free writing that kind of explains what it is how it can help how to go ahead and do that and we're gonna post a link to that in the comment section too yes it's important to always put something down on paper you might feel like well I can't think of anything so therefore I'm not going to write any right something just right whatever comes into your mind even if it has nothing to do with what you're writing about at that moment the story the poem the book that you're working on because that will kind of get the mechanics going and help you to get started feel like you have the energy of writing going and then you can switch to the topic that you were originally interested in we also have a shout out from Arizona that we want to say hi to there as well all right so now let's count down to how to find time to write so your writing time must be sacred you have to be realistic and look at your life look at your schedule you know if you don't have the time to write for two hours every day don't try to commit yourself to writing for two hours every day if that's gonna throw your life into chaos then just don't do it do what you can so that you do keep doing it if you only have 15 minutes in the morning before you get ready and go to work then just commit yourself to those 15 minutes also using time management tools can help I personally like to use a timer because I do use time goals for my writing so I just set a timer on my phone or however long I'm gonna write for and I write until it goes off and that way you don't kind of get anxious and keep looking at the clock every two minutes like uh I written for my 20 minutes yet you also don't have to worry about going over on your time and kind of may be missing other important things that you need to get done in your life also with the timer there's a thing called the Pomodoro Technique and you can set a timer to remind yourself to take short breaks for every bigger chunk of writing that you do so if you write for 25 minutes you can remind yourself to take a five-minute break and that technique actually was named for the originators kitchen timer which was shaped like a tomato which I love I think that's you it's all it's always it's always nice to know that something creative happened as is the development of that name when it sounds so incredibly fancy and it was named after a tomato shape timer it makes me want a tomato shape timer yes yeah you can also make a to-do list of writing tasks that you need to get done but you do want to be careful with this one because again that can turn into a form of distraction where you spend an hour making a to-do list rather than doing anything on the list so just make your list quickly you don't need to go in-depth just write down what you need to get done that day or that week or that month and check them off as you go because that always feels good to check things off of the to-do list definitely we also have a shout outs from Texas and if I didn't say it before Arizona and we have Portland Oregon who are visiting today so welcome welcome to our live event ok so let's see what else as far as finding time to write don't multitask if you're writing that's all you should be doing as Erin said your time should be sacred all you should be doing is writing don't don't decide to have the TV on while you're writing don't take a quick quick peek at your emails you have to pick the amount of time that works for you and then that is all you do there's a quote that sort of works for this situation by Barbara Kings lover and close the door right with no one looking over your shoulder don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you figure out what you have to say it's the one and only thing you have to offer so those are good and good inspiration for writers something maybe uh to even put over your desk while you're writing another thing that is helpful is determining the best time of day to write some of us are early birds and some of us are night our owls so if you are a better writer in the morning if the idea of getting up at 5 o'clock in the morning and writing for an hour works for you then that's when you should do it if you're a person who can be up till midnight writing and that's your perfect creative time then then you should be writing at night don't try to force yourself into a time slot that doesn't work for you some people might even be better at the middle of the day and find that writing on their lunch hour is perfect because that's when they're most awake and most creative in our writers relief Cafe Molly had commented that she's an early bird and really can't write at night and that stands to reason you should write at the time that works for you just like we all can't exercise at the same time a day or are the most awake and productive at the same times of day just because other writers might write at night doesn't mean you can't write in the morning and that's your time and that's when you schedule it and you'll get more done by going with your natural rhythm as opposed to fighting it we do have on our blog actually a self-test that will be handy with determining whether you're an early bird or a night owl or whether even the middle of the day is best for you we'll put that link up in the comment section for anybody who wants to take that self-test and determine what time of day is best for you for writing and by picking the right time you'll be less likely to be distracted less likely to fall victim to procrastination and more likely to get some writing done alright so now we're going to address some of the questions that people have left for us and first we have Steve's question I have a the bad habit of eliminating the obvious distractions tbh cellphone emails etc then I create mental distractions any suggestions for getting those under control okay so man we already gave a pretty thoughtful answer on the post and she said to try to work the distraction into the story so if you're thinking about rinsing out your coffee pot then think about your character doing that maybe work that into the story just kind of anything that your brain is going to see if you can work that into the writing definitely that's actually a very creative idea so thank you thank you for giving us that little bit of information there Mary and another thing to do is something that will take practice you have to train yourself while you're writing that that is what you're going to focus on so if you're writing and then suddenly you begin to wonder about the ending of the Game of Thrones series you have to say to yourself nope not thinking about that I'm going back to my writing you have to force yourself to go back to it and the more often you do it the more often you know you're going to get work done and it's going to become easier with each time you might notice the first time you tried it that seven or eight times you have to say nope I'm going to stop this and I'm going back to writing and then the more often you do it the less off and you will have to put it into play because you'll get right back to what you need to be working on I also think the free writing that we mentioned earlier could be helpful in this situation if your minds just kind of drifting all over the place or you find that you can't really focus you can start free writing and get yourself into the active writing and kind of get your brain going down that path that could also help true yes that's a very good suggestion okay then we have Jenny's question how to get over low confidence with your writing is it a part of writer's block so again Mary gave a good reply on this post thank you Mary she said ask yourself who's reading this right now nobody but you so it might not be great yet but you'll work at it later and make it better later so that kind of ties in to what carol was saying about you just want to get something down on the page it doesn't have to be perfect you just want to get something on the page and another thing you could do also is join a writers group for input sometimes if you're your worst self critic you're going to look at what you've written and think oh this is terrible no one would want to be this especially after maybe you've edited it a few times and you're kind of used to reading it to join a writers group and they have them not only in person maybe at the library or at a local community college or they also have them online but you'll be getting feedback from people who are also writers and as disinterested third parties they're not your mom and dad they're not your relatives or friends who you might think oh they're just saying this because you know they like me these are people who are going to give you constructive criticism and if they say it's good you might feel more inclined to believe them that this is good because these are people who know what they're talking about and I have written things maybe publish things and they're telling me it's good so a way to deal with some of that self-doubt would be to join a writers group near you or online you might also want to take some writing classes if you have those available again through the library through continuing education programs maybe at the local college and that will help you feel more confident about your writing too and sometimes even if you're thinking I'm not sure about this people have told me it's good but I still don't feel 100% you know what you could always submit it anyway because you'll be surprised how many times the thing that you thought I don't know if anybody's going to really go for this that's the one that gets picked up by a literary journal or gets the interest of an agent you could send out three poems and the one that you think is the least likely that could be the one that they take so you know never never be afraid to find a way to feel more confident and and don't be afraid to learn more and send your work out there okay and then we have the another question from FF what do you do when you've managed to push through procrastination to actually sit down and write but still make no progress I've tried writing other things some people have recommended focusing on a different part of the story but I'm one of those few people who can't go forward in any manner other than chronologically okay well you know it's it's not easy but sometimes writing is an inspiration sometimes it's just the words just flow everything is perfect your your writing you your hour is up and you you didn't even see it happen and a lot of times though writing is work and writers sometimes have to realize they have to approach it as work so perhaps in this situation what would help would be to write an outline of the overall story if you know the different points in the story then when you get stuck at least you know where you're trying to get if you if you say have characters that are going to meet in Paris and right now they're in London what you can do then is now you're stuck but you know they have to get to Paris so how are they going to do that are they going to take a train they going to hitchhike how are they how are they getting there so having an outline of the entire arc of the story and various points along the way might help you to move forward when you're feel feeling stuck at a certain point you don't have to go out of order chronologically but you'll know you have to get from A to B and that could be helpful and later on they might not work out you might end up throwing that away you might come up with a totally better idea once you've moved along a bit and have a better idea of what's happening but it'll keep you writing and it'll help inspire other ideas other things that you might be able to use to keep your story moving forward and to flesh it out okay well any other questions we have that you've posted we can address those in the comment section after the event so keep an eye out for that we'll definitely try to respond to everyone and of course we just want to have our little plug here if researching for the right places to send your work if you have things that you're writing and you're thinking okay now I want to send this out and instead of writing some more writing my next story or poll I'm spending hours now trying to research the best places to send this the best literary journals the best possible literary agents and that's taking hours and hours because there's so much out there and not only do I have to figure out who descended to but who not to send it to that's where we can help you because that's what we do we have the ability to research target pinpoint the literary agents and literary journals that would be most interested in your work so you know consider using our services here at writers relief we'll be happy to help you can check out more and learn at our website writers relief com and if you have a piece ready you can submit it to our review board and thanks for listening and keep writing see you soon

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