My September Writing Habit

After spending August establishing my new habit of writing for an hour in the morning before going online, I spent some time yesterday thinking about what I want to do for September. I’m grateful to a couple of authors whose books have guided me in this area.

I’ve already written about The Power of Slow, by Christine Louise Hohlbaum, and I’m going to repeat a couple of quotations from the book that have stayed with me:

“We can choose to shift our collective dialogue about time as a lacking resource to a more powerful view of time as friend.”

“Time as friend also means the death of multitasking.”

~ Christine Louise Hohlbaum, The Power of Slow

Another interesting take on time comes from Laura Vanderkam, who writes in 168 Hours: You Have More Time than You Think that much of the advice about time management and the efficient use of social media is geared for and comes from “a corporate office culture.” Such advice is not necessarily useful for writers or anyone doing creative work. Yes, we know we must develop our platform, have an online presence, and build a readership, but I am guessing that most writers who blog, for example, view their blogging time as a creative outlet as much as a work-related task.

“What do you want to do during your workday? Part of being effective during the hours you choose to work is developing the discipline to spend real time on what’s important even if other things—including, frequently, your own bad habits—try to shove you off course.” Laura Vanderkam, 168 Hours

Let’s face it: we don’t wake up thinking I really want to putz around for two or three hours on Facebook and Twitter while I tell myself I’m working. We wake up thinking I want to write today. (By the way, Vanderkam has also given me some fresh perspective on whether my overflowing email inbox is really a problem I need to worry about.)

With those thoughts in mind, here is my new habit for September, one that will build on my new practice of starting the day writing, will help me to view time as a friend by cutting back on multi-tasking, and will give me a better chance of spending my time on what matters to me.

  1. Write for an hour before going online.
  2. Do online tasks for 1/2 hour.
  3. Work offline for 1 1/2 hours.

Because I wake up insanely early, my mornings will usually look like this, more or less: Write from 5:45 to 6:45 a.m. Catch up on email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. from 6:45 to 7:15 a.m. Have breakfast. Work offline from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. And I still have the bulk of the day at my disposal!

What are your plans for September? How are you making time to do what is important to you? Let’s share ideas and keep each other motivated!

12 thoughts on “My September Writing Habit

  1. Great Goals, Lisa! I don’t have any plans right now. Just getting homework done and write when I can. I hope to start a writing habit (not sure what yet) as soon as I get back on my feet 🙂 .

    • Who can thinking about writing habits when one is sick? 🙁

      You’ve given me more jump starts in terms of new perspectives on writing than you probably know, Kelsey. I’m eager to hear what you decide, once you are feeling better.

  2. You’re so clever to do this. I think I’ll nick your one hour in the morning habit and make it a habit of my own. I think I just need to shut down the internet before I go to sleep at night so that I don’t see that blue flashing little email sign at the bottom of my screen. I always get so curious and I click it. There’s usually 10-15 emails (on my tessaquin email), sometimes more, sometimes less. Then I get several during the day and I click every time I get one. It’s very distracting and I always end up using several hours answering emails or checking out the links. Or Google Reader to catch up with my blogger friends.

    You know what, starting tomorrow I’m going to use my first hour of the morning to do revisions. Then I’ll check my mail, blog about my decision, open the pages I have to reply to – but not answer. Then I’ll do more revisions for an hour and *then* I’ll reply to the websites. A lot can be done in an hour!

    • Tessa, I know exactly what you mean! If I’m on IM, I see that “new email message” flash and it is sooo hard to keep from clicking on it.

      The hour of writing has been good for me, not just for the writing (not all of which is even ultimately usable), but because it helps me to start the day in a certain frame of mind.

      Let us know how it goes tomorrow! When I am writing on the computer for that hour (as opposed to longhand), I actually turn off my wireless connection, so as not to be tempted (what a weakling, lol).

  3. I started my first YA novel last Sept. 1st and made a goal of averaging 1,000 words/day. I met my goal (exceeding it most days) and finished the first draft mid-Oct (of course, I’ve been revising it ever since but that’s another story!)

    I started the same goal again yesterday (Sept. 1) and wrote 1,000 on my new YA (I already had about 9,000 words written). I plan to finish this one in Oct. as well and I have a feeling the revising won’t be quite as intense, as I’ve learned a lot by trial and error the first time around. Something about Sept. and ‘back to school’ time is very motivating for me work-wise. 🙂

    • Kristi, what a wonderful experience to share!! Thank you. I agree about the back-to-school motivating factor.

      Congratulations on September 1’s output… and beyond! 😀 You inspire me.

  4. I love your dedication.
    For September I would like to challenge myself to write a poem a day (or a total of 30 for the month). But don’t be surprised if a lot of them are haiku!

    • I love the idea of a poem a day! Thanks for the supportive words. I’m surprising myself with sticking to these habits (maybe I’m moving a bit toward the middle of the P and J spectrum, too). 😉

  5. Wow! That is spectacular. Why didn’t I ever think of that? Right, I was spending 2-3 hours on Twitter and Facebook. Love it!

    Right now I’m working on writing for at least 10 minutes a day every day, no matter what catastrophe erupts. Thanks for the book suggestions!

    • I am relieved to know I’m not the only one who fritters away time on Twitter and Facebook. And I don’t even have one of those fancy smart phones! I kind of wish I was the kind of person who is productive while staying connected all the time (I do think some people are), but I’m learning that it doesn’t work well for me. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, methinks.

      Glad to see you out of tree, lol. You are making your daughters proud. 🙂

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