This is how writing feels sometimes. Zombie writer stumbles in to create fresh words every morning for hungry readers. Especially when you’ve set a production schedule to build that herd of turtles (see Abundance vs. Scarcity).
In theory, the Dunkin’ Donuts guy could get someone else to take his 3:30 am shift, but as an author, I am the only one who can make the donuts.
If I’m not writing, no writing happens.
How to Protect Your Writing Time
I’ve already mentioned that when I write, I turn off all social media. I’ve always had a vague sense that this was the right way to do things. Then I read Manage Your Day-to-Day (Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind), and I was completely convinced. It’s science, people: the disruption of social media while you’re trying to create is profound. Learning to manage your break time so that you can stay in that creative zone for longer is key to boosting your productivity.
Tracking Your Work
Another productivity booster for me came from Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. It sounds gimmicky (or outright impossible). It’s not. I highly recommend you read the book, but one of the keys is something that’s a proven technique in diets, exercise, and any other behavior modification program: tracking. We automatically change our behavior when we track something – it’s a human response to numbers and data. More=better, or at least that’s how the pleasure centers in our brain perceive an increase in some tracked thing (calories, minutes of exercise, friends on Facebook). For writing, it’s as simple as keeping track of your progress each day – time spent writing, words written (or edited), progress through the manuscript. I saw a marked improvement not only in my progress but my enthusiasm when I started tracking my writing every day (I’m tracking it right now.)
Every day you need to be writing words, creating intellectual property, doing the work.
It’s the only work you can’t outsource. You can get someone to make your cover for you; you can hire editors to help you; you can send your MS out to critique partners; but only you can create the story in the first place. You are the first, last, and only person who will see your vision through to words on the page. Every day, I have to do this work – and this becomes more important (not less) as I have more projects in the works.
Since writing is, in fact, not the straight-forward process that is making a tasty raised glazed donut, the next two chapters talk about training your intuition and nurturing your creativity, to help that butt-in-chair time produce your best work.