August 19, 2010

Time to Write by Kimberley Payne

On The Word Guild discussion forum, writer Benjamin Collier asked, “I find that unless I know I have four straight hours of writing time ahead of me I feel like I can't get into the right "mode". But then I have made some good progress in two hours or less. It's the anxiety that gets me. And I liked your plan of breaking it up into smaller projects. If anyone else out there has similar issues, do you guys have any additional advice for dealing with this?”

Sandra Reimer of Reimer Reason Communications offered this advice:

1. Free yourself to write garbage in order to get going. Tell yourself you must write something in a given time period. It doesn't have to be good. This sets me free from creativity-killing anxiety. Writing garbage is like making small talk. In the same way that small talk leads to deep, intimate conversation, writing mediocre material often leads to something worthwhile-or at least something that can be distilled into usefulness in the editing process.

2. If after trying to write for awhile you are still feeling jammed and unconfident-take a break. I get a snack, take a nap, go for a bike ride etc.

3. I find being able to write well or to be creative is deeply tied to feeling confident. For me, reviewing past successes or achieving success in a small area kick starts my confidence and can free me to write.

4. If you are breaking a large writing project into smaller chunks, I find it immensely helpful to keep a "working journal." I jot down where I am in a project and what still needs to be done. I review this before I get going in the next session. I finished a screenplay in 1 to 2 hour chunks with a few longer sessions over about a year. My working journal helped be more productive in those short sessions.

Darlene Oakley commented, “Great idea, Sandra! This would be such a great thing considering I have the affliction of not-being-able-to-finish-because-of-life-itis. I've started work on many of my stories only to have life interrupt and I not being able to get back to them. When I start working on them again, I often have to read and review what I have already done and try to re-establish my thought processes and where I wanted to go and where I still need to go. I will have to do this - since I love notebooks!”

Have you got 101 ideas for articles or books but a schedule that’s too full to allow time for you to write? Do you have any other suggestions?


  1. I struggle too with that excuse of not writing because I don't have a large chunk of time.
    Your ideas here are so simple yet practical. I printed them out and taped them to my computer desk. No more excuses!
    Pam M.


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