I often find that December is a tough time of year to stay focused, but it’s always really satisfying when I manage to fit in some writing too, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day.
If, like me, you get distracted by Christmas shopping and tree decorating, or tired from mid-week parties, here is a quick tip to help you put pen to paper:-
Set up your laptop or notebook the night before, along with a simple plan about what you’re going to work on the following morning for just 15 minutes. If possible, make sure it’s somewhere quiet, where you won’t be interrupted.
Don’t be too ambitious, especially if you really only have 15 minutes, but try to be absolutely clear about your task – e.g. brainstorm the first 3 scenes, write a character profile for a specific character, or write the opening paragraph of chapter 2.
Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than you would normally get up (or 20 minutes, if you know you’re going to need a coffee!). Then the following morning, as soon as your alarm goes off, before you do anything else, go straight to your writing, don’t stop to think, just launch into your task for the day. It’s amazing how much you can get done in 15 minutes when you’re prepared and you have a clear plan.
If you struggle to hit the ground running, don’t despair, it usually means that either, you have set yourself too big a task and are feeling overwhelmed, or you don’t yet know enough to get started.
If you think the task might be too big, try breaking it down into really tiny steps. You’ll feel less overwhelmed that way and also find it so satisfying ticking them off one by one.
If you don’t yet know enough to get started, try doing some mind maps to help you fill in the gaps. If in doubt, get a piece of paper, and write in the middle ‘What don’t I know?’ then try to find as many answers as you can. One of these answers will jump out at you– and that’s the one you need to brainstorm first; with any luck, as your mind map starts to fill up, you will soon have all the information you need to carry on writing.
I find brainstorming is an incredibly useful tool – both when I’m embarking on a new idea, as well as when I get stuck. So don’t sit there worrying that your idea doesn’t work, and might need to be ditched. Instead, start by brainstorming, and watch as you come up with lots of little solutions. Don’t edit yourself at this stage – be open to anything and everything! If that doesn’t work, try talking it over with someone. They might have the insight you need.
It might be the holiday season, and you might be super busy, but keep writing, little and often, because every sentence adds up, and every writing session helps you to reconnect to your work in progress. So keep showing up, keep writing, keep pushing forward, even when you’re really busy.