Writing in the New Year

The New Year and Writing
Since it’s the beginning of a new year, now’s the time to make sure all elements of your writing practice are working well for you. Even if you think everything is fine, it’s a good idea to take a few minutes to review your relationship with writing. Whether or not you’re writing regularly, there might still be ways in which your practice can improve and work even better for you.

At What Time Do You Write?
Most important: When are you writing? As I’ve mentioned, certainly more than once, the earlier in the day you write the better. If you’re a morning person and wake up full of vim and vigor, I suggest settling down to write quickly, perhaps after you’ve prepared a nice cup of coffee or tea for yourself. If you need to get up and about to dispel drowsiness, you might take a quick shower, prepare a nice cup of coffee or tea, then settle down to your writing.

I’ve never encountered a writer who is able to procrastinate writing and consistently sit down to write later in the day. Even thinking you’re going to answer just a few emails, or take a quick look at the news on line is a mistake. Any distraction is a rabbit hole, and I now hold it as axiomatic that once distracted, writers never return.

I have several theories about why it’s so difficult to begin or to return to writing once you allow an interruption, but for now, it’s most important to understand that this “never return” is universal. And despite the large number of writers who slip down this rabbit hole, it’s easy to avoid it.

How to Avoid the Rabbit Hole of Procrastination
The first step is to accept the importance of beginning to write as close to first thing in the morning as possible. The next is to figure out how quickly you can begin writing after you wake up each day. And the last step is to accept that for many writers, any distraction, including stepping “away” to do a bit of research usually means the end of your writing that day.

Although I always maintain that writing and thinking are inextricably bound—to use my father’s favorite expression—the thinking should take place as you write. Not when you take a break from your writing. Stopping to get a bit of information or to do some research shifts the gears in a very different direction, keeps you from settling into the flow, and inhibits your writing. If as you’re writing, you find you need some facts or figures or names, type a few X’s in as place holders and continue writing. Then, when you finish writing for the day, you can unearth the information and plug it into what you’ve already written.

If this isn’t your practice, you might try it. It’s only the fifth day of 2018. If I’m wrong, you have plenty of time to return to your old habits. And if I’m correct, I’d love you to let me know.

One fallen oak leaf in a forest

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