Yeah right, that happened for me once back in 2002. And it happened again last week at Jen Louden's Writer's Spa. How do you recapture those energized moments of genius?
Yesterday I wanted to continue the writing on my book project and all I can say is that laundry got done. (I hate housework and have a charming housekeeper who does it for me. How does washing out socks seem more interesting than writing?)
It's because the project is too big and the time plentiful right now. Anyone who's a procrastinator knows that running out of time is key to getting the juices flowing. And we've all got a procrastinator lurking in us.
Here's my two-step organizing solution for writing content that really sizzles, even if it's a huge book or a blog post:
- Set generous writing deadlines
- Chunk it down
1. Deadlines: No matter what you write, you're going to have to set time limits that are generous. If your writing project is due next Friday, you need to get it done Wednesday. That's because you'll want to run it by someone else and re-write it. It gets better when you take extra time.
If you want to get a book done before the end of 2009, you need to finish writing the "shitty first draft" in October, not December. That's because of rewrites and edits. This is all subjective and depends on the length of the project. Only you can determine this.
Even daily blog posts, if you want quality, should be done the day before, so you have a chance to tweak them, add related posts, and make them better. Sonia Simone of Copyblogger says she will often let a blog post simmer for two days before finally publishing.
Whatever your time parameters are, make sure you have "sit and simmer" time built in. You actually have far less time than you think you do.
2. Chunking: Once you've looked at the time parameters, look at the overall content. Divide it up, either by number of estimated words, pages, chapters, or sub-topics. Only you know how your writing project is going to look at the end.
(If you don't, then you need to spend more time clarifying your goals for the project. Any fiction project has a story line or a time line. Non-fiction has certain sub-topics. Doing this work first, looking at the end, is essential, even if you can't know specifics until you start writing and get into flow.)
Don't get hung up on details, but make your best guess. I find starting to write with even a vague map is better than no map at all.
The other thing about chunking is that whenever I look at the sub-sections, I end up getting excited about them, and jump in and start writing. Has that ever happened to you?
What do you do? Do you set writing goals, chunk it down, stick to your plan? How important is this to getting your writing project done? Please feel free to share your best tips.
I was reading Valeria Maltoni's Conversation Agent post, Give Yourself a Deadline, and it inspired me to write this post.