Here we are in subzero temperatures, trying to stay active in a good ole fashioned Chicago winter. This can be so hard when that 8-15 minute walk to the train station feels like the American Ninja Warrior Challenge. The victory being getting on the train and not turning back as soon as you step foot out the door. The next challenge is building up your writing discipline while you pretty much just have work and everything else. Over the break you must at the very least attempt this! I am one to wake up and think I should write…after my shower, after my breakfast, after I check social media, after I catch up on Grey’s Anatomy (always Grey’s Anatomy). Then here I am at the end of the day when my roommates roll in from work and distract me with dancing, jubilation, and food. What’s been working for me is that I’ve started writing before anything else. Even if it’s just a few lines I try to get ideas down, and thoughts. Ultimately this break I’ve been trying to figure out what works for me. I’ve boiled it down to the top 5 that I’ve done constantly.
1. Meal prep your writing
Take Sunday, after brunch if you need to, but sit down and take a look at your week. What are the realistic pockets of time that you can write for? Then commit! Act like writing is your best friend and if you cancel last minute that is NOT going to fly, even if you know that they’ll forgive you. Hold yourself accountable.
2. Writing marathons at least once a week
Now, I’ve had to do this because I’ve done some canceling last minute. A full 9 to 5 of writing is my marathon. That is a full day of submitting, a full day of mapping out my thesis, or a full day writing as much as I can on several projects I’ve let slide. This is a day to catch up on productivity.
3. Mini Workshop Wonderlands
We hear this as writers all the time, it’s hard to be accountable to yourself so be accountable to other people. If you have a piece you’ve been “working on” and someone says “I’d love to workshop it, can you read mine, let’s meet on X date,” I’m fairly sure you’ll be actually working on that piece right away. First because having another pair of eyes on your work is invaluable, and second how will you look as a colleague if you fail to delivery? Unreliable. In a world full of creatives who are trying to find the muse, the inspiration floating in the stratosphere, being reliable is a sought after trait.
4. Dead Phone Zone
I get it. FOMO is so real, and in a world where social media is the big brother of the people who voluntarily drop a pin wherever they are, how can we resist the endless scroll! Turn it off! Take it out of the equation. If you find yourself picking up that dead phone to check out Snapchat, well then you proved to yourself it needs to be off. If you need to do research for your piece, be wrong in the first draft, change it when you start editing.
5. Appreciate Your S%+t!
Writing can feel like a waiting game. You have all this stuff written; you sent out all this work, and won’t get feedback for months. It’s like the first two weeks of a new job where you don’t see the paycheck until week 3 maybe even 4. Don’t forget it’s out there getting looked at, possibly on it’s way to getting published. Hard work pays off in the future, the present is where we must practice mindfulness and being aware that today we did it.