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Writing Changes: Improving Work Habits

by Amy O'Quinn

 

I’ve always been someone who gets things done—eventually. This happens despite all the twists, turns, rabbit trails, and disorganized methods I employ. You might say that I’ve been a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ writer as well. I’ve usually met deadlines, but most often when they were pressing. In the last year, however, I’ve discovered that this approach no longer

works for me.

 

Until the last few months, my writing was done whenever I squeezed out a bit of time to work. And honestly, that was when I felt like it. I know Suzanne has always been a strong proponent of making a weekly writing plan. I’ve listened to her advice, but kept on doing it my way. I figured as a part-time writer, it didn’t matter. Guess what? It matters!

 

Enter a book contract and more and more educational copywriting work coming my way. I was feeling swamped, anxious, and extremely disorganized. Between trying to teach my children, run a household, and juggle my ever increasing writing workload, I knew that without a writing schedule, I was going to sink.

 

I had to make some changes!

 

Change #1

Make a commitment to work X number of hours each week if at all possible. On Sunday, I look at my schedule and estimate how many hours I will be able to work. For me, this usually means I can commit to working at least twenty or twenty-five hours a week.

 

Change #2

Create daily ‘office’ hours. Again, using my calendar, I designate certain hours for writing each day. Since we homeschool, those hours are already taken. But I try to set aside a block of time from 2-6 pm to use as my ‘office hours.’ I must be flexible, but at least I have a plan. I also work at night and on weekends when I need to.

 

Change #3

Make a list of the work to be done on each day. When I am finally able to sit down at my computer, I don’t want to stare into space or figure out where to start. I want a plan in front of me—and the list of items I need to get done during the current work session. This is another preliminary step that can be taken care of on Sunday. I look at my writing projects and deadlines, and note the most pressing items. Then I work on those in order of importance.

 

Change #4

Turn off email programs and exit social media sites during work hours. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but I have to be firm with myself. Otherwise, I find myself clicking over to those sites for a quick peek. Thirty minutes later, I have to get refocused. I can’t afford to waste that much time when I am working.

 

Change #5

Get up earlier. Many writers are probably shaking their heads at this obvious statement. By arising earlier than my family, I have time to gather my thoughts for the day and focus on what needs to be done. I’ve also found that early morning can be prime-time for serious work. Phones are silent and the craziness of the day has not yet begun. I seem to get more done in that hour or two than I can get done in three or four hours later in the day. These are bonus hours!

 

If you feel you need a more consistent writing schedule in order to stay afloat and get your work done, consider making some changes. Re-evaluate your current situation and create a new plan today!n? Use the news!

 

*Article originally appeared on The Work Writer's Club website HERE.