Writing every day is helping me to get more non-writing tasks done.
Let me explain.
Since I stared this writing challenge, I’ve been purposefully controlling my time better, in order to have time to write. The side effect of my nascent time management has been that not only do I make time to write; now I’m more productive with the rest of my time, because I don’t want anything interfering with my writing.
One feeds the other.
I’ve always been a classic procrastinator. I do manage to get things done regularly, but I tend to work better under pressure and on a deadline. The writing challenge has imposed a daily deadline on everything else in my life – I can’t let anything go so late that I don’t have time to write, so I tend to push myself to get the other stuff out of the way.
It’s funny how doing something worthwhile forces you to prioritize other things.
I used to let the other things take over.
I’d look forward to the weekend, but when it came, I’d get bogged down chasing endless chores or get sidetracked doing things that were somehow suddenly urgent. Before I knew it, my weekend was gone and I couldn’t remember doing anything productive at all.
I was reacting to life – not living it.
I’ve found that by committing daily to something important, everyday urgencies tend to take a back seat to what really drives me – in this case, my daily writing fix. If I can’t get it done in the early morning, I block time after the kids are asleep. One way or another, I know every morning that I am going to write something, sometime before bed. The habit has given me focus, and set me free from several things I used to struggle with in my writing.
Freedom from Topical Myopia
My daily writing habit has become an exercise in keeping my mental gears turning; forcing me to contemplate not only what I’m going to write, but what I might write, as well. I realize that I don’t need to limit myself to a few safe topics, nor should I. Writing about something unfamiliar is a great way to force yourself to explore the unknown and make it known; a way to experience something new and add depth to your own understanding of the world. I know next to nothing about mind mapping; yet because of this challenge, I’m working on a series comparing two mind mapping programs and learning how they might help my writing. Something I never would have attempted in the past is now an opportunity to learn and grow.
Freedom from Perfection
Perfectionism is a curse. It forces you to avoid trying new things for fear you won’t be great right off the bat. It keeps you from finishing, because you’re never sure that what you’ve done is good enough. By instituting a 24-hour time limit between projects, I’ve forced myself to stop giving so much of a crap about perfection, and start concentrating on production. Writing daily gives me the freedom of knowing that if one day’s effort falls flat, there’s always tomorrow. Focusing on writing one major work perfectly is a good way to ensure I never publish anything. Focusing on writing a lot of really good things is better – because some will be really good – but others will be great.
Perfect, no. Great? Absolutely.
Freedom from Inertia
The surest way to avoid failure is to never begin; but that’s also the best way to avoid success. Doing nothing tends to breed more doing nothing, especially in writing. I’ve been ‘going to be a writer’ for more than four decades. I only started acting like a writer recently. Writing is something you can’t dabble in occasionally. If you don’t write regularly, you’ll find an increasing number of reasons to continue not to write.
Life takes over.
Inertia sets in.
A daily writing habit means you are moving – you’re out of your chair and progressing toward your goal. As brilliant new ideas come, you’re more likely to write about them than forget them forever, because you’re already writing.
You’ve already started, and once that snowball gets rolling, it’s hard to slow it down.