You organise your entire day so you can write. Then, when you sit down in front of the blank page, nothing comes. And you do this for hours. Then the next day, after a defeat like this, it’s even harder to force yourself sit down and write again.
Do yourself a favour.
Make your life a little easier
Short writing sessions are the friend of the productive writer. As part of your journey towards becoming a writer, try writing every day for 15 or 30 minutes. This will help you become more productive and creative.
How Many Hours Do Writers Work a Day?
The prolific British author Anthony Trollope wrote for three hours before work each morning and produced dozens of novels during his lifetime. Stephen Kind writes for three hours or more each day.
I typically write for one to two hours each morning. I may spend an additional hour editing my work that evening. Other writers I know go write intensively for several months before taking a break for a few weeks.
How Short Writing Sessions Can Help You Become a Writer
Like many writers, I spend a lot of time procrastinating.
The prospects of sitting down for fifteen or thirty minutes is less daunting than facing into a two or three hour writing session at the weekend. A short writing session is more achievable because almost every writer has 15-30 minutes in their day of which they can make better use.
If writing isn’t your full-time job, short writing sessions are perfect for busy days. You could write between meetings, on the bus or train, before you leave for work or late in the evening.
All you have to do is rise half an hour earlier, skip a favourite television programme, or avoid social media and the news.
Short bursts of writing are like small wins. They accumulate over time until one day you look at your work and realise you’ve written ten thousand words. Steven Pressfield best explains the importance of turning up regularly to write in The War of Art.
“All that matters is I've put in my time and hit it with all I've got.”
Get More From Your Next Short Writing Session
Becoming a writer who gets more from short writing sessions is easy. Try:
- Making a list of 10, 20 or 30 topics you want to write about: don’t judge these ideas, your purpose is only to write as many down as you can within the time you have to write.
- Forgetting about perfect grammar, spelling or formatting: yes these are all important, but they are also time-consuming. You can fix all of these things when you’re editing later on.
- Using pen and paper: this method is timeless. It will help you focus more on what you want to write and less on the tools you use to write.
- Setting yourself a challenge: write as many words as possible within half an hour. Then during your next writing session, try and beat your previous word count.
- Focusing on a specific part of your current writing project: this intense focus is useful if you’re struggling with an introduction or a conclusion. Make it your job to finish this section before your half an hour is up.
- Writing with the intention that you will flesh out your ideas tomorrow: you don’t need to finish what you’re working on immediately. Perhaps today it’s enough to turn up and write for a short while before attending to the rest of your life.
- The Pomodoro Technique: this is a perfect productivity strategy if you only have a half an hour within which to write.
The next time you feel stuck or intimidated by the thoughts of the blank page, go easier on yourself. Write for just half an hour and then go about your day. Then on the following day, push yourself a little harder.
How long do you spend writing each day? Please let me know in the comments section below.
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