4 steps to writing every day

This is an answer to a question I got on tumblr, which was about tips for finding time to write on a regular basis, despite the pressures of work, etc.

I am self employed though, which means that I don’t work at a soul crushing job all day, or at least it means that I only crush my own soul? And that does help. But writing on a regular basis is a lot like being self employed, in that it’s mostly about goal setting and time management, so when I decided I wanted to get more writing done, that is how I approached it.

The steps below are more or less that ones that I followed, only I’ve left out my whining and repeated failures. The most important things are to keep trying and make sure that you love what you’re writing. Those will help a lot.

1. Pick a number of words that you want to write every day

This number basically doesn’t matter. When I started doing this, I started at 300 words per day, but you could start with 100 or 50 or 2 sentences. The important thing is that it’s something you feel you can accomplish without wanting to throw your computer out the window or at the heads of your loved ones.

2. Find out how long it takes you to write that number of words

I’d recommend actually timing yourself rather than guessing, but maybe you are a better guesser than I am. You will get faster. It’s just practice. And remember that they don’t have to be good words on the first draft; that’s what editing is for. “Every first draft is perfect because all a first draft has to do is exist.” (Jane Smiley)

3. Find that amount of time in your daily schedule

This is the hard part, obviously, but once you do it, once you know objectively that you have X amount of time to spend on writing, actually doing the writing becomes (slightly) easier because that is The Time for Writing, not for walking the dog or planning how to take over the world using your duck army or worrying about bees or whatever. If you can make this the same time every day, it becomes even easier because it gets to be a habit. Habit lowers our initial resistance to starting something, even when we’re tired and run down and hating life.

4. Guard it with your life

(This will be especially difficult if you have kids.) Remove any distractions that you can possibly remove – phone, email notifications, maybe turn off your internet, close your tumblr tab, etc. Ideally, you want a time when nobody will bother you. That can be hard to find but, in times of trial, Tina Belcher comes to us speaking words of wisdom:

[gif from Bob’s Burgers]

Literally me. I do most of my writing in the early morning before my clients start emailing me.

You could also check out The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and Lifelong Writing Habit by Chris Fox.

I hope some of that was helpful, and good luck! :)