Episode Two

The Right Time to Write - Developing a Daily Writing Practice

In this episode of "The Wonderful World of Writing" Laura Cotton shares 4 techniques that will enable you to develop a daily writing practice. She also provides an assignment, which is to create a daily writing schedule.

The following is a more detailed discussion about how to find the ideal time to write.

You can accomplish your writing goals and dreams.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, what your life experiences have been, or what anyone else has said about your writing. You could be fourteen-years-old or one-hundred-and-four years old. According to The Guinness Book of World Records, the youngest person to write a book was a four-year-old whose book “How The World Began” was published in 1964.  If she could do it, you can do it. 
The reality is that the most important aspect of writing is faith. You have to believe that you have something worthwhile to say. Many people who have ideas and the desire to write delay writing for months, sometimes even years, because they are afraid to just start writing. You need to remind yourself that you are a creative individual. You have a unique voice that deserves to be heard and, in order for it to be heard, you must start writing.
Writing on a daily basis can be difficult. When you first start writing you are going to have a hard time trying to fit it into your day. And even if you do find time to write, your work, your family members, even your cell phone are all going to attempt to distract you. However, what you need to do is remind yourself that your writing time is valuable and that you deserve to spend this time on yourself.
The following is a list of four techniques that will enable you to develop a daily writing practice.
1) Create a schedule.
Many writing coaches recommend that you try writing first thing in the morning so that you can easily access your subconscious mind. The philosophy behind this belief is that because you have just emerged from sleeping, you will be more open to new ideas and you won’t be as critical towards your writing. However, if you are a busy individual, a mom or dad with children, or simply someone who isn’t a morning person, writing in the morning might not work for you. It is important to recognize that the best time of day for you to write is probably going to be different than the best time of day for someone else.
Creating a schedule will give you the opportunity to discover your ideal writing time. The first step is to obtain a daily planner of any kind, and as you are planning out your week, schedule 30 minutes of writing time per day. Try to vary your time as much as possible so that some days you are writing in the morning, some days you are writing in the afternoon, and some days you are writing in the evening. This will enable you to discover what time of day is best for you to write.
The way you use this time is up to you. Feel free to sketch down ideas, outline, or just start free-writing. In the beginning, it is usually best to experiment with a several ideas before settling on one. Also, it is important to allow yourself to write badly. If you censor yourself too much, you won’t enjoy writing and you’ll never say what is truly in your heart.
Remember, some days you will not feel like writing. But force yourself to sit down and try to write something – anything. This will train your mind to write under any kind of circumstance. If you miss a day, try to get back on track as soon as possible. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Also, try not to spend too many hours writing non-stop or you may burn out too fast.
2) Every time you write, reflect upon your writing experience.
When you have completed your thirty minutes of writing, write a few sentences about how you felt during this writing time. Were you distracted? Worried? Did you find yourself wanting to be someplace else? Or were you focused entirely on the task at hand? Reflecting upon your writing experience will allow you to become aware of what time of day and what conditions are best for you to write.
3) Minimize distractions while you write.
While you are writing, try to stay focused on the task at hand. Turn off your cell phone, shut down your email, and tell your friends and family members that you can not be with them during this time. Plan ahead so that you are less likely to be disturbed. You might want to prepare a snack before-hand so that you don’t get hungry while you write, post a “Do not disturb” sign on your door so you are less likely to be interrupted, and set-up all of your pressing appointments so that they occur before or after your writing time.
4) Maximize your writing time.
As you are creating your schedule this week, ask yourself if there is anything in your life that you can eliminate so that you have more time to write. If you can’t think of anything, keep a log for a few days of how you spend your free time. Most likely, you will be amazed at just how much time you waste.  Perhaps you will need to give up visiting Starbucks in the morning, staying up late watching television, or surfing the internet. Try to reduce your time using your electronic devices and you will be amazed how much extra time you have.  Also, be willing to say no to people when they ask you to do things. Your writing time is valuable and you deserve to make it a priority in your life.
Assignment Two: Create a weekly schedule which includes 30 minutes of writing time per day. Try to schedule these 30 minutes at different times of the day as much as possible. After these 30 minutes are concluded, write 3-5 sentences about how you felt and whether or not you think that time of day worked well for you. At the end of the week, reread what you wrote and try to determine what time of day is best for you to write. Be open to the possibility that your ideal writing time might vary depending on the day of the week.