I’m all for peaceful, non-combative metaphors that describe the work of writing and any other creative pursuit. However, when it comes to time management and creating space to write, only military metaphors can truly capture what’s going on today.
Brands, companies, and marketers are waging war against you. The battle is for your time and money.
Companies are on a full war footing, invading your visual and audio space through any means possible. Cell phones are mobile advertising tools that just happen to be phones. Computers are being turned into ad placement billboards that happen to provide productivity tools. Television and radio dump ads into our lives at a blinding speed along with our favorite shows and sports.
When I walk down the street I see ads on billboards, newspaper stands, buses, and benches. I could be listening to a podcast sponsored by a company. I could also browse the internet on my phone and buy anything from shoes to a new computer.
With so many companies desperately working to catch your attention so that they can sell you something and keep their profits rising, your only choice is to counterattack by working all the harder to guard your mind and your creative time.
Today, you don’t just happen to write. There are far too many distractions around, and many of those distractions are linked to selling products for companies that need to keep selling products in order to survive. They NEED to distract you. That is a huge part of their marketing plan. With so many options for how we can spend our time, writers must be equally intentional and strategic.
Here are some of the ways I fight back:
How to Start the Day
I make a list of everything I need to do each day. The night before I leave my to do list on my desk and note what I’ll do first. I have a backup project in case I get stuck.
Social Media Boundaries
I only look at social media on my tablet while standing in the kitchen in the morning. Once I sit down to work, I try to avoid the internet altogether until after two hours of work. I don’t visit Facebook unless I know what I’ll be doing next.
Use Pen and Paper
By using pen and paper to outline and draft my chapters, I can provide myself with extremely focused writing time. In addition, I usually revise my first drafts significantly, so drafting it on paper makes it easier to revise a chapter when I enter it into a computer. When I get into the hard work of book editing, I often print out my chapter and make changes with my pen first.
Understand How Habits Work
I learned that my first move when I get stuck on a writing project is to bail out and check my email. That has been my habit for years now. Once I realized that I was using email as a pressure relief valve, I started using Freedom to cut off my internet connection while working on an offline project. If I need to be online, I try to set time goals for myself so that I have a better incentive to stay focused.
Take Breaks that Make a Difference
The sweet spot for advertisers is the bored, listless, or frustrated consumer who is looking for something to make him/her feel better. I’ll be the first to admit that I like wearing my new hiking shoes and our new car is a pleasure to drive. Buying new things brings a measure of happiness and a rush of sorts. However, if your goal is to write a book, to post to a blog regularly, or to get published in a magazine, you’ll need clearly defined work time and leisure time.
Read books that will expand your imagination or teach you something you can write about. Take a walk without a phone or headphones on to clear your mind (bring along a little notebook too!). Watch a creative or inspiring show that will help you relax without tuning in for an all-day marathon. Leisure is great, but only if you use it to refresh yourself rather than making it the goal of your life.
Does This Resonate with You?
If developing a strategy for your writing and creative time makes sense to you and you live within driving distance of southwest Michigan, consider joining myself and fellow writer Kristin Tennant for the Renew & Refine Retreat for Writers on May 24-26.
We’ll provide professional, creative, and spiritual sessions for writers looking to take their work to the next level. And best yet, our early bird rate of $225 includes all sessions, meals, and lodging (It increases by $50 on April 1st).
Learn more at www.renewandrefine.com today!