Writers have such a vast reach not only in this world but over the universe. As wordsmiths, we live a thousand lives from a single WIP (work-in-progress) and birth hundreds of projects from one idea. But how can we harness this limitless potential to wield at full capacity?
– By simplifying –
Sound too easy? Well, the concept may be, but applying it in our daily practice could be harder than we think. Which is a good thing! Anything that’s worth our time will require at least a little effort. What more, we benefit from simplifying our writing lives by
- Removing distractions
- Redefining our priorities
- Aligning ourselves with the work we care about
- Making time and space to focus on our mission
- And, ultimately, empowering us to live our best, authentic lives
So roll up your sleeves and pull on your work boots. We’re breaking down the two-step simplification process.
Step 1: Limit the tools
The tools you need versus the tools that enrich your life will guide you in paring down. This is not to say you need to become a minimalist or that you have to give up all your supplies to make way for your craft. Not at all!
However, if an item has been hanging out in your writing space for a while with no use, consider donating it. Maybe to a friend who needs it for an upcoming project. Or perhaps to a cause that has the item on their wishlist. Besides, when was the last time you thought of the pack of pens in the back of your desk drawer? I thought so.
My rule of thumb:
If you haven’t used it in the last two weeks and have no purpose for it in the next two months, you can let it go.
This also applies to word processors, programs, and apps. Imagine all the space you could free up on your device. Yes, that one app may have served its purpose at one point, but what good is it if you’ve only used it that one time to jot down a scene five years ago?
Think of it this way . . . With a million spools of thread, all you need is one sewing machine to make the magic of creation happen.
Same goes for your writing life. Keep the essentials (pen, paper, laptop / desktop, word processor, typewriter) and the items that help you fulfill your personal mission. These serve as the machine that brings the “spools” of ideas together. Everything else is a bonus.
Step 2: Focus on the commitment
Rather than pushing yourself to smash out x number of words in x number of hours every single day while loading your schedule with deadline after deadline, find a system that feels natural to you. (Of course, if that earlier scenario is natural to you, work with it, lovely!)
Try this formula on for size:
# Minutes / Words every Frequency during Time of Day
For example, the writing commitment that currently works for me is 10 minutes every other day during the night. By keeping the threshold low at ten minutes, I know I can squeeze out a paragraph (or even a sentence) in that amount of time while feeling golden even on bad days. Then by writing on nonconsecutive days, I give myself a small break to breathe while still maintaining momentum.
The easier the commitment, the higher the production. If you focus on writing 100 words every evening starting today (September 7, 2017, for all the future folk), then you would write at least 11,500 words by the end of 2017. That’s more than a quarter of a book complete!
Your commitment can vary from season to season. But aim for the sweet spot that works with your current lifestyle.
Simplifying our writerly tools and commitments can pave the way to our most productive year yet. But let’s leave room to experiment, to switch things up, to try anew. The reason we simplify is so we can experience our lives to the fullest while wiping away the unnecessary.
However your journey unfolds, remember to embrace every step. You’ll only pass this point in life once. From here on, you only go forward.
How else do you harness your full writing potential? Discuss your strategies and thoughts in the comments below.