We often speak about the power of writing simply. We understand how that translates on the page, in the written work. What we don’t often speak about is how simplicity in the process of writing is just as important.
For me, I know I waste a lot of time in planning, prepping and getting things perfect before I start writing. This is time I don’t have. This is time I could spend on better things – writing, reading and, more often than not, sleeping.
We tend to overcomplicate things as writers. We think there’s more reward in digging that dark tunnel through the mountain when we could really just scamper over it. The result is the same: we get to the other side.
❶ Stop doing the things that don’t work. Isolate those bad habits that keep you from writing. Be specific: name your enemies. Then simply stop doing them. Remember something that helped you ten years ago may not be serving you today.
Example: Do I really need five different notebooks and random notes stuck around my writing room? Why not just use one big notebook or even a single Word document to capture everything about a project?
❷ Start doing more of the things that do work. If something is working for you, remember it – and do more of it. This is where you’ll gain some ‘easy wins’ – which will build your confidence, and make you more productive. If there’s a method that suits your personality and routine, grab on to it with both hands.
Example: If I set aside time-locks for my writing, this seems to produce the best results. I set aside a half-hour or hour at a time, and I give myself a target or 200 or 1,000 words. I usually get to that word count.
❸ Simplify as you go. This is where you work on making things even easier for yourself. You start to cut out as many trivial things that you can, and focus on the things that are important to you, that produce results. It’s about learning from what you did wrong or right the day before, and applying it the next day – and the next day.
Example: I found that micro-journaling or a bullet journal helps me stay focused and gives me a sense of accomplishment. I’m aware of how I’ve used my time productively – or simply wasted it.
Perfection is one way to ruin your life. Distraction is another way. But perhaps the greatest enemy is procrastination. You don’t have to necessarily like the bus that gets you from point A to B: you just have to get on the right one every day.
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