We are always happy to share guest’s expertise to help you on your writing and self publishing journey. Today, you can read tips from Mike Fishbein, a self-published author of over half a dozen books, including How to Write a Book in 10 Days. Many thanks, Mike, for your useful advice and a good read to you all!
One of the hardest parts about writing is getting started. I hear from so many people that want to write, blog, or self-publish a book, but can’t seem to find the time or be able to stick to the habit. Below are my top 10 tips for kickstarting the habit and being focused on writing.
1. Start small
Small habits can lead to bigger habits. Starting with shorter, more frequent writing sessions can help you get in to the practice of writing. Writing a small (even just a few sentences) passage can help you get over the hardest part of writing: getting started. From there you can build some momentum to start tackling more ambitious passages. Starting with a long chapter can be intimidating. Starting small reduces the barrier to getting started and can help you build momentum.
2. Set goals
Setting specific, measurable, and realistic goals can be motivational and force accountability. If you’ve committed to yourself to write a certain number of words within a given period of time, you will feel inclined to do so. Setting goals slights higher than what’s realistic may push you to accomplish more than you would have if you set a lower goal. I like to set goals on a weekly basis. Reaching the goals can bring confidence and increase your motivation in the future.
3. Set (and stick to) a schedule
Find the time that’s best for you to write. Different people feel more able to focus on writing at different times. Experiment to see which times are most conducive to writing for you. Maybe while you’re walking or driving to work you can record yourself talking about a topic that you can later transcribe. I personally like to write early in the morning and on weekend afternoons. I used to write on weeknights after work. Put the time in your calendar and commit to it!
4. Write immediately
When you think of an idea for a chapter or small topic, write it immediately. Previously, when I would think of an idea, I would simply make a note of it on my phone or to-do list. This often resulted in forgetting what I actually wanted to write, or simply losing interest in the topic. Now when I think of an idea, I write as much as I can right away. It helps me to write while it’s top-of-mind and reduces filtering. I still keep notes about ideas if it’s impractical for me to write at the time, but writing as much as possible as soon as possible is best.
Write the conclusion of a given chapter, or of your book as a whole, first. The conclusion is everything you want the reader to walk away with, in a short and straightforward way. Writing the conclusion first will help you determine what you need to include in the chapter or book. Sometimes the conclusion becomes my opening paragraph of a chapter or the introduction to the book. Sometimes I break up the sentences in the conclusion across the chapter or book. Writing the conclusion first is a quick and easy way to get your main points down and focus your writing.
6. Close all windows on your computer — especially email!
Don’t multitask while you are writing. If you are writing your book in Google Docs, like I do, you will be using your Internet browser. This can be very dangerous. Don’t have any other windows open…especially email! I find email to be the most distracting. I get trillions of emails per day. If you are writing in Word or another piece of software you have downloaded to your computer, close all other programs and your Internet browser windows and tabs.
7. Turn off your Internet
If you find yourself opening up your web browser or new tabs while you are writing, turn off your Internet all together. Write using software that doesn’t require Internet. By turning your Internet off, you put a big obstacle in the way of your distractions. You may therefore be less likely to do things other than write on your computer.
8. Turn off your phone
Similar to the Internet, your phone can be a huge distraction. You might be getting text messages, phone calls or other notifications that break your concentration and “flow”. If this is the case, turn off your phone while you are writing or put it in another room. Those Snapchat selfies can wait!
9. Take advantage of “the flow”
“Flow” is when you are feeling so focused and energized that the words feel like they’re just flying off your fingers. If you have this feeling, take advantage of it! When you are feeling focused, keep writing. Write more! You may get more writing done during one hour of flow than in ten hours of non-flow.
10. Take breaks
Take breaks so you don’t burn out. Even if I’m not fully exhausted, I will take a break. I take breaks before I get fully exhausted because once I’m fully exhausted, it’s harder to bounce back. Bouncing back from slight tiredness is easy and takes much less time. Bouncing back from deep burnout can take days.
Taking breaks may seem counterintuitive: “How can not writing help you write faster?” Well, yes, by taking a break you are sacrificing some writing time in the short term. But it may make you more productive or give you the ability to write more in the long term.
Breaks can be long or short. For example, you may want to write for an hour and then take a 15 minute break to eat, go for a walk, or talk to friends or family. Breaks can also be longer. You may want to take a weekend off.
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