A common lament among writers is how difficult it can be to maintain a regular rhythm of writing. For many of us, our attention is pulled in multiple directions with various commitments to our day jobs, families, marketing tasks, or community responsibilities. These are often good and necessary diversions from our writing work; however, if we want to make progress as a writer, we need to develop and stick to a plan.
The key to finishing your work is simple, but it’s not easy. Hope*writers asked children’s author S. D. Smith how he commits to deep work.
He encourages writers to “stop not writing” and offers the following tips on how you can commit to your own rhythm of writing.
Recognize Your Limits
We are finite, and so are the hours in our day. Our energy and focus are limited, and no two writers have the same inner or outer resources. By recognizing our personal limitations as well as our strengths, we’re able to make informed decisions about how we spend our time.
Take a careful look at your individual constraints on time, energy, and opportunities, and plan your writing time accordingly. While writing can feel like it has an element of magic to it, empty hours don’t magically appear on our calendars. We have to make room for them.
Be Intentional With Your Choices
One way to make room for empty hours (or empty minutes, depending on your circumstances) is to be ruthlessly intentional with how you spend your time. This may mean giving up a volunteer position, limiting time on social media, using part of your lunch hour to write, or waking up earlier.
Established writers may need to respond to fewer readers or set aside short-form work for longer, more time-intensive projects. If we want to “stop not writing,” our choices make all the difference.
Develop Good Habits
Good habits are the core support system for creative work. Habits will be unique to each writer, but they will likely include dedicated time to read, a regular and specific time frame for writing, clear writing goals, and a system for keeping track of ideas, pitches, and completion. The myth of the free spirit who creates without a regular rhythm of intentional work and good habits is just that: a myth. Working writers know that healthy habits produce real results.
Recognize That There Are No Shortcuts
For years, magazines, commercials, and social media have proposed shortcuts for various areas of our lives that require hard work. From fitness to making meals to get-rich-quick schemes, we’re drawn to anything that promises to make our lives easier.
Many of these promises fall apart quickly, and the writing life is no exception. Writing requires us to take thousands of small steps in a single direction over a long period of time. There are no quick fixes or overnight successes.
S.D. says, “When you’re looking to do something that’s good, generous, and hopeful, you’re going to have to fight for it.”
If you want more guidance on how to write good, generous, hopeful work, we’ve got you covered! Our conversation with S. D. Smith is a member favorite. Click here for free access to our entire conversation and take one step towards balancing the art of writing with the business of publishing.