How to Make the Most of Your Writing Session
Now that you have figured out a schedule for your writing session, whether you are writing for an hour, two hours, or focusing on a specific word count, today's post is about making the most of that writing session.
One of the best ways I've found to make the most of your writing session is to have a plan or an idea for the topic(s) you want to write. Let me tell you how I came to this conclusion…
Wednesday's session (my fifth attempt at writing for an uninterrupted 2 hours) turned into a journal writing session. I really wanted to focus on getting a grip on the direction I should take and so I wrote out my goals and some thoughts related to those goals. Less than halfway in, I decided I had my stuff figured out and I got distracted. I ended up on Facebook, dwelled on some things. It look me a few minutes (read: 20) to get back on track, and then I started writing this post on making the most of your writing session. I know firsthand!
So, before you start your session, I have some tips for you.
Take about 10 minutes before your session and write some notes about what you want to write about. Write down a few things in case you blow through the first one before your time is up. Ask yourself what piece you're writing. Are you writing a blog post? Or are you writing a chapter for your new book?
This isn't something you set in stone. If you come up with another idea while you're writing (that happens to me), write about that. Write whatever it is you feel compelled to write at any time during your writing session (just don't revert back to journal writing – do that at some other time).
Don't turn your "topic" list into a to-do list. You just want some ideas to use as a springboard for when you're wondering what else to write about before your time is up.
Don't use this writing session to brainstorm. Be prepared by brainstorming beforehand. The point of this writing session is to have actual writing work done, writing that you can use in one of your written documents. If you do brainstorm during your writing session (shame on you!), have the discipline to get back to writing quickly. Give yourself 5 minutes and then get back to work.
Avoid distractions (keep an eye out for my upcoming post on avoiding distractions) and learn to respect your writing time so you can teach others around you to respect it, too.
To avoid any holdups, have a backup plan ready. If you're a technology skeptic like I am, an important step to take when sitting down for your writing session is to have two methods of writing. For instance, on Wednesday, I was going to write in Evernote (that's what I've been using for my writing sessions so far), but I had overloaded it before my session. It froze, and right on the hour, I had to open my word processor. I got a few minutes behind waiting for the document to open. I would suggest writing on paper, but then you would have to type it up if you ever wanted to use it (isn't that the point?).
If you're using a program like Dragon, be sure you know how to use it before starting your writing session. Plan a practice session to practice using the program so you can make the most of your real writing session.
You should also turn the phone off and plan your session around a time that is the least likely to have an interruption. (Be sure to check out my article on 13 tips to avoid and prevent distractions!)
Take a quick break if you need to. Some days your writing session will fly by and other days you'll struggle to get through it. That's why it's so important to set a specific time or word count goal that you can actually achieve. If a two-hour session turns out to be too much, cut it down to one.