Whether you need to write something for school or work, or you want to pursue writing just for yourself, actually getting it done can be hard. Here are six suggestions that can help you get the words flowing, whether you’re feeling inspired or not.
1. Designate a time to write. If you decide ahead of time that you’re going to write (and do nothing else) during a specific chunk of time on a specific day, you will likely feel more motivated to write when that time comes along. If you’re working on a long-term project, you may benefit from scheduling these writing sessions regularly.
When setting aside time for writing, you should keep your attention span in mind. It’s not possible to focus on one thing indefinitely. If you try, you will become less efficient as the time passes, and your writing will suffer. Data from the productivity app DeskTime indicates that the most productive people focus on work for fifty-two minutes and then take a seventeen-minute break. Using a timer, test whether that works for you. If you feel like the ratio of work to break isn’t optimal for your personal productivity, keep adjusting it until you find something that works.
2. Set up your workspace. Avoid interrupting your work by preparing your physical space before you start writing. You don’t want to lose concentration because you’re busy squinting, shivering, or sweating, so make sure that the area is adequately lit and isn’t too hot or too cold (if you can’t control the thermostat, dress appropriately for the temperature). Check that you have someplace to sit (and maybe someplace to stand). Also, experiment with different ideas to see what helps you feel most creative.
3. Set specific goals. If you don’t really know what you’re doing, or you have a lot of anxiety about writing, you may want to start with time-related goals like “I will write for a total of two hours today.” However, it’s often better to set task-related goals like “I will complete my introduction” or “I will write 500 words.” These goals will keep you motivated and on track to complete your project.
4. Take care of yourself physically. It’s hard to focus and to write well if you’re distracted by hunger or sleepiness. Managing your eating, sleep, and exercise will help your body and mind be at their peak when you sit down to write (as well as throughout the day).
Writing is a Process
5. Remember that writing is a process. Almost never will your first draft be your best draft – and that’s okay! You can do dramatic repair work during revision. And it can often be counterproductive to think about grammar or spelling while you’re drafting – focus on the content in the beginning, and leave common misspellings to eType. Everything else you can take care of in the proofreading phase. Basically, the important thing isn’t to start writing something awesome – it’s just to start writing.
6. Be nice to yourself. If you got off-task yesterday or didn’t hit your goals last week, don’t beat yourself up over it. That’s not going to accomplish anything. Remember that writing is hard work, and figure out what you can do to make sure you do better next time.