A Guest Post by Edie Melson
So often we make things harder than they have to be. Sometimes we do it because we’re used to doing things a certain way, or because it’s the only way we know how. But things change quickly these days, and it’s always a good thing to take a look at your routine with a fresh eye. Today I’m going to share some tips to streamline your writing life. Some you may already do, some you may not have ever considered. Just take a look at the list with an open mind and see if there’s anything on it that can make your life easier.
Tips to Streamline Your Writing Life
- Take a look at your goals. It’s important to have goals—and it’s important to have written goals. It’s easy to just float along, taking things as they come. But when we do that, it’s hard to make progress—and it’s even harder to evaluate progress. Beyond that, there’s something almost magical about writing down your goals. Having them recorded somewhere gives them weight and makes it easier to make them a priority.
- Evaluate how much time you’re spending on social media. If it’s more than thirty minutes a day, it’s time to re-evaluate. After thirty minutes, your return on investment takes a severe nosedive in the downward direction.
- Let go of your expectations. No this isn’t a contradiction of #1 above. There is a huge difference between goals and expectations. I bet if you’re honest with yourself you have quite a few expectations—from what you expect from yourself, to what you expect from others. For me, when I took a hard look, a lot of those expectations were totally unreasonable. So spend some time and take a hard look at your expectations. The ones that are reasonable, make into goals and priorities. The rest of them . . . well . . . just throw them away.
- Determine when, in a 24-hour period, you are most creative. Some of us are night people, some are morning people, and some of us work best in the afternoon. But we each have a specific time when the words and ideas tend to flow easier. Look at your internal clock and figure out when that time is. Then, guard it like you’re guarding gold. Really that’s what you’re doing. Our income and dreams are locked up tight with our ability to create. When we figure out the time that work best for creative work, it’s like someone has handed us pure gold.
- Come up with a way to schedule your time. I know not everyone can have a detailed schedule. But truthfully, if you’re trying to carve out time to write (and who isn’t?), you need to schedule that time. There are lots of methods to help with time management from an old fashioned spread sheet to the Pomodoro Technique. Do some research and find something that works for you.
- Commit to quit talking negative to and about yourself. When someone bashes our ability and/or our manuscript, it takes time to recover. The same holds true when we do it to ourselves. So take a page from my author friend, Alton Gansky, and QUIT IT!
- Take care of yourself physically. This means getting enough sleep, eating well, and especially exercising. The sedentary lifestyle of a writer can quickly take its toll on us physically and mentally. Sure these things take time—often time we don’t feel we can spare. But even though this may seem counterintuitive, it will streamline your writing life. You can accomplish so much more when you are physically healthy and mentally alert.
- Build in regular breaks. Especially when I’m on a deadline, I’ve found that taking regular breaks greatly improves my productivity. A good friend and spiritual mentor of mine Kent Pate has a saying, “Divert daily, withdraw weekly, abandon annually.”
- Surround yourself with encouraging writers. You don’t just need encouraging friends, but also encouraging writers. We writers are an odd lot, and we need others around us who understand our thought process, our struggles and our quirky joys. These writers should be active and growing—not those who just talk about writing, but those who spend time writing.
- Engage a prayer team. This may seem odd, especially if you’re fairly new to even calling yourself a writer, much less having something published. But the truth is, this life is hard. When we answer God’s call to step out and share His message, we’re going to encounter spiritual warfare. For that, you need people to pray for you. If you’re also building a ministry, trying to grow an income and/or beginning to speak, that’s even more of a reason to surround yourself with prayer. These folks don’t have to be writers, but they should have a connection to you.
These are just some of the things that do to help my writing life stay manageable. I’m sure there are lots of other things that would help as well. Be sure to chime in with your suggestions in the comments section below.
Edie Melson—author, blogger, speaker—has written numerous books, including While My Soldier Serves, Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military. She’s also the military family blogger at Guideposts.org. Her popular blog for writers, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month, and she’s the Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Connections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers is a print expansion of her bestselling ebook on social media. She’s the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect on Twitter and Facebook.
In addition to being our keynote speaker, Edie is presenting one of our workshops: Plug-In to the Digital Revolution–Without Stressing Out!
Did you know that the college class of 2014 considers email obsolete? According to the Beloit College Mindset List, they’ve also never written in cursive, and with cell phones to tell them the time, they see no need for a wristwatch. If this makes you feel old and out of touch, don’t panic, I can help you develop a web presence that puts you back on the cutting edge. Learn the basics of setting up a blog, working with Facebook, and tweeting on Twitter. Beyond that, I’ll give you the tools and resources to help you keep current with all things digital.