It’s a touchy topic, I know.
On one hand, we may putter a bit as a way ‘into’ writing–getting supplies together, pouring a cup of coffee, and putting a few cookies on standby. Most of us have a pre-writing ritual. But, on the other hand, after we do those things, how many of us suddenly remember something that needs our attention? Maybe, Oh, I forgot to send that email and so we head to the inbox. We send our message, but as we do, see another about a friend’s new book. So, naturally we zip over to Goodreads and add it to our shelf.
You know where this is going. Goodreads leads to Facebook, which leads to Instagram and Tiktok, and boom, an hour’s gone. Maybe more.
Another thing that chews up writing time is the research and brainstorming we need to do. There’s always things to look into for our story, and information for marketing, learning stronger craft, and more.
Finally, there’s the time we waste trying to locate our story planning materials – those characters bios, timelines, notes about the plot, worldbuilding information, and the rest which helps us as we write and revise. These things may be scattered in notebooks, on hard drives, post-its, etc. and every time we need to look something up, it pulls us out of the writing flow. Sometimes by the time we find it, we’ve lost track of what we had planned to say.
So…how do we get lost time back?
By changing our habits & process a touch so writing time is spent doing exactly that: writing. Here are some tweaks that might help you:
Procrastinate…with a timer. If you know it’s your habit to check a few things before you start writing, then give in to it, but set a timer on your phone to limit how long you spend surfing social and handling email.
Schedule time for non-writing tasks. Story planning, researching information to help us write and market, connecting with people on social media, and yes, answering email – it all needs to be done. But if we organize ourselves better, and create designated times for those bits of work, we protect our sit-down-and-write sessions.
Organize our story materials in the same place. It’s true, we can be like birds, storing shiny bits and bobs for our story all over. This happens because as we’re planning, we’re not always in the same place. Sometimes we’re at the computer and things go into a file, other times, ideas hit in the car and we jot down notes on our phone or on the back of a receipt.
Keeping things together means we always know where to go when we need to check something about a character, scan our outline, or remind ourselves of certain story details. Being able to find the information we need quickly is key to getting back to writing and more words each session.
If you’re looking for a way to organize all your story items, check out One Stop for Writers. We just revamped our dashboard, the Workspace. You can create everything for your story there, store it, and when you need to look something up, it auto-sorts everything for you. (Don’t you wish someone would create a button to sort out your actual desk? I do!)
Check it out:
Finally, if you’re procrastinating too often, ask yourself why. Often, we fall into a distraction hole because we’re struggling with the story. When the writing gets hard, our motivation drains away. We’d rather get lost on the internet than face a nasty knot in our manuscript.
Problems don’t fix themselves, so we need to push ourselves to identify what’s wrong, so we can find a solution. Going back to our story materials is often key as they can show us if we’ve planned enough, need to raise the stakes, give a character more depth, add a scene, or something else. TIP: The Storyteller’s Roadmap has a Code Red section to help you fix the most common story problems.
How do you make sure procrastination and disorganization doesn’t derail your writing? I’d love to hear your tips!
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.