7 Simple Habits That Will Help You Write Faster and Easier
“I hate writing, I love having written.”Dorothy Parker
Writing is a funny process, when you stop to think about it. It’s an odd dance that requires various parts of your brain to fall into rhythm and work together. It’s a rub-your-head-while-you-pat-your-belly sort of situation but with a dozen hands on the go at one time.
What I’m saying is… getting words onto a page is a complicated activity. And sometimes, it’s hard.
I’ve been writing online content professionally for more than 25 years. It’s how I pay my mortgage, put my many daughters through university, and finance my addiction to European travel. So, I know how to write fast – and how to get ‘er done without pulling my hair out.
🙂Shameless promotion: I’m also the author of a rather successful book, Making Words Work, that you may want to check out.
Here are some simple little habits that work for me. I bet at least a few of them will work for you too!
1. Dress the part
When I go out for a walk dressed in my sweatpants and a coffee-stained hoodie, I don’t walk as fast as when I take a few minutes to squeeze into my over-priced leggings and a sport top with little holes in the wristbands. Apparently putting your thumbs through those holes is a HUGE athletic advantage.
There’s something about that wardrobe change that makes me feel stronger and walk with gusto. I’m pretty sure it’s the thumb holes.
This may seem shallow, but dressing for success is a THING. Even if you’re writing at home and no one sees you except your cat… ditch the sweatpants and the coffee-stained hoodie.
Personally, I have a collection of cardigans (because 1980s movies made it clear to me that female writers wear cardigans).
Conjure up your own image of what looks writer-ly. The objective is to feel confident, capable, professional (and a little artsy-fartsy). Cardigans are optional.
2. Tidy your workspace
Cluttered spaces lead to cluttered thinking. Take a few minutes to get organized before you start writing.
This works on two levels. Firstly, it gives you a clean, hospitable environment to do your thing. But the process of tidying up also gets your mind into the right headspace for organizing other things, like your thoughts and ideas!
3. Close your damn tabs
Distractions are your enemy. So if you want to write faster and easier, don’t stare at a screen that’s visually populated with a multitude of temptations. If some of those tabs have information related to what you’re writing about, bookmark them. Open them as needed. Then close them again.
Your screen is part of your workspace, so get into the habit of keeping it clean and tidy.
FYI: That cluttered browser isn’t just a distraction. Keeping too many tabs open can worsen your overall mental health.
4. Figure out when you’re at your best and write at that time of day.
I’m a morning person so that’s when I write. My eldest daughter writes professionally as well, but she doesn’t hit her creative stride until early afternoon. Listen to your body. It knows what’s going to work best for YOU.
Figure out when your brain feels the most engaged and schedule that as your daily writing time. THIS ONE HABIT is a game changer!
5. Use a timer.
I write for 30 minutes at a time. Once the timer starts, I don’t check my email. Or peek at social media. Or even top up my coffee. I write.
When the timer goes off, I stop. If I’m on a roll, I might give myself another 30 minutes to wrap things up but never more than that.
The timer helps me stay focused. But most importantly, it tells me what DONE looks like. Mentally, that’s important.
6. Keep your feet warm.
In the history of the world, there has never been a person who enjoyed having cold feet. It’s a distraction. So invest whatever amount of money you need to invest when it comes to footwear. Personally, I wear a booty-style, sherpa-lined slipper, with a solid sole. My feet are warm and cozy so they stay quiet and don’t bother me while I’m writing.
Note: If you live in a tropical location, congratulations. You’re already ahead of the game.
7. Reward yourself – because writing is hard work.
I keep a stash of Hershey kisses in my desk. Every day, when that timer goes off, I give myself two Hershey’s kisses. I close my eyes and savour them. That moment is filled with an almost childlike joy. Positive reinforcement works. And those little bits of candied happiness are less than 25 calories. Just saying.
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