Stick to Your Schedule
If you do get writer’s block, don’t let it freak you out. Try the word lists, the mind maps, spend time reading instead of writing, or simply get up and have a cup of coffee or take a short walk. These types of activities tend to reduce the stress of performance anxiety and also help you to get the right frame of mind to use the part of your brain involved in creative acts.
One of the things you want to do as you develop a schedule to write is to keep in mind when you are most creative. That differs for everyone. Some people write best when they first wake up, and others are night owls. Even if you have other work that has to be scheduled during certain times, you will find that the creative juices tend to flow at particular times for you and you might have to rearrange the schedule to suit that muse. That just goes along with this type of profession. You will find it has a natural rhythm of its own and you are the one chasing the muse, not it coming to you.
And, that’s the other thing that should be mentioned. Almost always, the biggest hump to actually writing is just getting started. That’s why the free association exercise can work to stir the creative juices without building any pressure on you to produce a meaningful piece of work. It’s just a matter of sitting down and starting to get words on paper that can often be the biggest stumbling block. Hopefully, by using the strategies and tools in this series, you can at least know how to get started with word lists, research, and or even mind mapping to get started and spend less time looking at a blank sheet of paper.
Writing is one of the most flexible professions out there. Whether you are a mother of three, already have a day-time job, or work the night shift, you can still spend time writing any time of day or night around that schedule. So, while on the plus side the flexibility makes it a very attractive job, it can also hamper people who don’t know how to set and keep a tight schedule for themselves.
But, once you’ve figured out the best times to write for you, you should keep to it and have a schedule so as to get in the habit and practice of writing, whether you feel like it or not. That might be a four-hour block of time in the morning when all the kids are in school. Or, it might be late at night because that’s the time when you best write. Either, way, try to schedule a set number of hours to work, if you intend to take this profession seriously. If you are just trying to start to write, you can start with smaller chunks of time, maybe even during a lunch break so that you get started just doing it.
Take Tons of Notes!
Don’t just stick to words, though, you can also include photographs, drawings, clipped news stories, and even mind map diagrams in your note series. It can be a multimedia form of note-taking.
To be prepared when the mood strikes you, keep some notepads, journals, or just sheets of paper with pens available to be able to jot notes down anywhere you are. Some great places to put these are by the side of your bed when you might wake up in the middle of the night with some good ideas, or have some as you’re waking up or going to bed. It’s also a very restful time, which is why ideas that may not have had space in your brain earlier, may now feel free to come forward.
Finally, to increase the speed of your writing sessions, you should use note taking during other times to brainstorm and collect interesting facts or quotes that can help you later on. So, if you find a moment when you’re not doing anything in particular, then why not use that time to take a few extra notes on things you might be reading, browsing on the Internet, or just brainstorming? You may end up finding lots of fruitful thoughts that can help you when you might be stuck later on for a good idea.
And, what are the sort of notes you might want to take?
High-performance queries — Maybe you found a certain way to locate research that you want to use again. Record the search query in your notebook. Maybe it’s a search result that yielded gold in the form of valuable articles that can later be mined for some topics. Record the search query in your notebook. Next time you are at a loss as to what to write about or how to perform a particular search query, you can look back on your notes and get started very quickly.
Website URLs — You can either keep a separate area for these (its own special notebook) or you can put them in with your all-purpose multimedia noteBook. Remember to put a slight description of the website as well as the URL so that you can get back to it. This is the shortened version of what you do with your research document, where you include the entire online article. That’s so that if later you do find a use for that article, you can go to that notebook and find the URL very quickly.
Quotes — Maybe you hear a great quote on the radio, or a friend says it. Or, maybe you’re reading a book for pleasure or an article and you find a fabulous quote. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have an article that suits it at this very moment, but you don’t want to let that quote leave without first recording it in your notebook. That way, when that opportunity does arise, you will know that you have some great inspiration to start several articles just waiting for you in your noteBooks.
Photographs — A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well, modern technology has made it really easy to get photographs anywhere using your cell phone or digital camera and then downloading them to your computer. After that, you can even print them out on your printer. Now, it becomes almost an instant process to collect photographs in a few minutes when it used to take days to get them developed.
Clipped stories — Whether they are from a local newspaper, a popular magazine, just an interesting flyer, you can clip these stories and add them to your notebook. Later, they provide a great way to find topics or quotes buried in them that can help you during dry spells or even when they match a particular topic a client wants.
Mind maps — Just because you’re not on a computer, it doesn’t mean you can’t do manual mind maps. It’s a great way to free associate and generate brainstorming in a more relaxed and intuitive way.
Infoproduct titles — Once you start writing articles, you may come up with great ideas for topics that aren’t really what your customer wants, but you think would be great to sell on your own. Don’t hesitate to keep a separate journal to capture those info product titles that pop into your head as you go about your day, or even when in you are in the middle of a different project. If you don’t jot them down at that moment, the mind has a funny way of burying that title deep somewhere where only a deep sea diver can end up finding it someday.