How Writers Stay On Task

Writing is hard work, or so they say. Yes, I'll agree with that. The seat of your pants get all shiny from excessive wear and tear and still you often have more work than hours in the day if you're like most writers. If you've done any amount of serious writing you'll probably agree that writing is a whole lot more than just sitting at a computer and pounding out words. It's all too easy to get off track and lose momentum.

Frankly, I'm not sure that most writers can explain adequately what they do.,,,especially when they try to explain how they manage their time.  Because of this, they're often put on the spot trying to explain why they just can't be available to attend to other activities. This drives their neighbors and managers crazy. And it's often a stumbling block when writers try to bid on projects. Anyone who doesn't write for a living just doesn't understand what it takes to do the job.

If you do your own writing at home  – as freelancers generally do – you probably find that your neighbors and managers assume that you are doing nothing but wasting time. They just don't understand that even when daydreaming, or flying a kite, or washing dishes, or whatever, you're probably hard at work trying to earn a living.

Neighbors, seeing you home all day, often assume that you must be independently wealthy – no responsibilities, nothing to do, without a care in the world. Managers with no way to evaluate your efforts beyond the the words they see you put on a page figure you must be wasting time. Neither of them have a frame of reference for the planning, creativity,  molding of ideas that goes into the finished product.

Your neighbors and managers think in terms of what they see. If they see you don't go to an office, return home to do chores, spend free time in recreation and sleep like they do, they invariably think you have nothing to do. Home to most people means personal / free time.

But, frankly, by the time a writer gets to the point where they're typing words, most of the work is already done. 

Be honest now. How many hours do you spend – and what value do you put on those hours – when you're researching, testing and validating and organizing those thoughts that eventually end up on the page? How do you put a value on the time you're wrestling with an idea while attending to the other business of life (like driving your car or doing the laundry) before you transfer those ideas into glowing prose? 

How do you explain that you're actually working? Don't even try. The most valuable word in a writer's lexicon is "No": No, I don't have time to do what you want right now. No, I am not available to… No, I'm busy!

How unfortunate! Because "No" is not a word that works well with creativity A writer's work relies almost exclusively on potentials and a can-do approach. "No" stops creativity in its tracks.

If you work as a writer, strive for balance. Interruptions can be a mixed blessing. Some interruptions help to bring a new dimension to your experiences and give your subconscious a chance to sort out details…but be very careful. Other interruptions do little more than disrupt the creative flow. Words and ideas don't just hang out until you get around to working with them. They come and go in a flash and rarely return when ignored.   

When you do need to employ the No-word, be strong…leave no doubt about what you're saying….but be patient, too. Don't try to explain. Not everyone will understand anyway.. 

Author: 7577JMM

Retired - Published Author, Editor, Webmistress, Artist, Musician