That “back to school” vibe is in the air. Summer’s days are numbered and I have the uncontrollable urge to buy a fresh pack of pencils!
Why not take advantage of that fresh start/fresh focus energy to revamp your writing process? Today’s post revisits the ways you can use process and ritual to make your writing time more focused and productive.
The blog is in reruns this month because there’s a whole lot of building going on at 4.23. Including a sprucing up of my Build Your Content Plan workshops that will get your 4th Quarter editorial calendar sorted and ready to roll. Get the details and grab your seat before the early bird pricing goes away.
Because when you know what you’re writing about and why, sitting down to do the writing is infinitely easier!
Regardless of what we do for our clients, all of us write for our businesses. A blog post, a sales letter, the Chamber of Commerce presentation, the email to an underperforming vendor; we need to be good with words. Yet, so many of my clients groan at the thought of sitting down to write.
Part of the problem is they think writing goes like this:
Sit down at the laptop.
Beautiful, compelling words begin to flow effortlessly.
Fifteen minutes later, the business content they’ve created is so persuasive that the phone rings before they’ve hit “post.”
Birds sing and world peace ensues.
They are mightily disappointed and think they’re lousy writers when a more common writing scenario ensures:
Stare at the blank screen.
Type and delete the opening line over and over.
Stare out the window.
Scroll through dozens of pictures of outfits worn to the Met Gala (or so I’ve heard)
Give in and decide maybe tomorrow will be a better writing day.
The thing is, the second scenario isn’t about being a lousy writer, it’s about having a lousy approach.
How you set yourself up to work on content can make a big difference in how effective and efficient that time is. (A solid communication strategy and crystal clear messaging help, too, but that’s another post.)
Here are eight ways to set yourself up for a successful writing session.
Block Time On Your Calendar Give yourself a specific chunk of time for writing. Make it a repeating calendar item if you have regular content to create like blog entries or newsletters.
Turn Off Distractions Shut down everything but what you need to write. Put your phone on airplane mode, turn reminders off on your computer, turn off Wi-Fi if you can.
Turn On Focus Instrumental background music, nature sounds or white noise can improve your ability to focus and establish a creative environment. I like Spotify’s “Focus” playlists in their Moods & Genres category.
Give Yourself A Cue I always sit down to the keyboard with a cup of coffee. That consistency means the coffee triggers an “it's writing time!” response in my brain. Plus it smells good and tastes delicious. What cues can you create for yourself? A whiff of an essential oil? Light a candle? Put a picture of your ideal client on your desk? Listen to a certain song?
Take A Few Deep Breaths & Set Your Intention Some days, I do a full-on meditation before I start writing. Some days, it’s just a few deep breaths to settle in and focus my energy. Then I make a declaration, silently or out loud, of what I need to work on, It might sound like “Right now, I’m going to work on this week’s blog post.” It helps clear the remnants of previous phone calls or lingering to-dos out of my head.
Set A Timer How long you set the timer for is less important than setting the timer and staying on the writing task until the alarm goes off. If you’re really resisting getting started, give yourself 10 or 15 minutes on the clock. You can do anything for 10 or 15 minutes. You’re likely to find yourself in a groove and want to restart the timer. If not, at least you’ve made a start.
Go! This is the part where you sit down and write.
Celebrate When that timer goes off and you’ve completed your writing, celebrate a little. A fist pump, telling yourself “you rock,” a little square of dark chocolate, whatever feels like recognition to you. Stop and acknowledge your accomplishment before you go off to your next task.
Creating a consistent ritual (my business coach Christine Kane calls them “on ramps and off ramps”) around writing will get you into the work faster with better focus. The more you do it, the better it will work, the better a writer you’ll be.