An important part of being a more productive or faster writer is really understanding yourself and how you work. After writing a daily blog for a few years now, two full-length books, and tons of additional email and website copy, I’ve learned a lot about how I work.
For example . . .
I need deadlines, or nothing happens. If I don’t have a real deadline, I have to make one up. Otherwise it will never get done.
I have warm up disease (although I am getting better). That means that I have to write a few warm-up sentences, or sometimes even a paragraph or two, knowing full well that I will delete them because they are lousy and unnecessary. I try very hard to write that good second paragraph first, right out of the gate, but it just doesn’t come. If you have this problem too, just write that stupid paragraph and then delete it. It’s faster than fighting your own brain, trust me.
I frequently mistype 2-letter words (e.g. an instead of on, or of instead of to) and leave the “s” off of singular verbs. I have no desire to spend time improving my typing skills at my age. Instead, I accept that I make certain kinds of typos more often than others and I know I have to spend time looking specifically for them.
I’m much better off in the long-run if I spend time getting the lead right. Once I get rid of that bad warm-up paragraph, I need to spend time turning that second paragraph into a first-paragraph-worthy lead. Many people advise you to write first and edit later, and generally, I think that’s good advice. But I do need to get my lead right before I can draft the rest.
I have “get ready to write” traditions. Cup of hot tea, and often a cookie. And I like to feel warm, so I have hoodies and blankets in my office.
I write best mid-day. I am not a morning person. I do write well at night, but most of the time I am too worn out.
I can get on multi-hour rolls. When the mood strikes, I know now to stay with it. I can get so much more done that way, even if it means skipping a meal.
I asked on a recent webinar on writing fast which habits attendees shared with me. About 500 people participated in this poll. It’s nice to know I’m not alone!
What about you? What have you learned about your own good and bad writing habits?