Write … to the Point

– writing tips and tricks

Archive for the tag “Deadlines”

How to get down to the business of writing…when you really can’t be bothered

Lacking motivation to write

Let’s face it, every now and then, despite the deadlines looming we really struggle to find the motivation to write.

It’s not exactly writer’s block — it’s just that motivation has disappeared as quickly as our morning coffee, and we just can’t be bothered.

So, what do you do to get out of the funk and back into business?

Write a List

Sometimes I can’t quite get into my writing  because I have other things buzzing about my head — things to do, things to remember, phone calls to make, etc. Writing them down is a bit like a brain dump; you get them out of your head, but you put them in a place where you know you can attend to them later.

Get rid of distractions

Do you have your email open in the background? What about Twitter? Facebook? Other social media platforms? While it’s tempting to run them in the background, they will only make it worse for you, if you’re not in the writing zone. Shut them down. And while you’re at it, turn off your phone.

Grab a cuppa

Chances are, before you struck out on your own as a freelance writer, you worked a 9 to 5 job, right? What was one of the first things you did before you sat down to work? Grabbed a cuppa. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, it really doesn’t matter. But the very act of starting your writing session the same way you used to start your regular work day, will help your brain to switch on to ‘work mode’.

Write anything

Just start writing. Anything. It doesn’t matter what it is. You could write about how you don’t want to be writing. You could write about what you plan to do on the weekend. The content isn’t important, but the act of beginning the writing process is. Most of what you’ll come up with will be unrelated to the task at hand, or totally rubbish. But the process of just writing, will do something in your brain, and soon enough, your writing will become focused.

Apply some ‘bum glue’

Renowned author, Bryce Courtenay used to talk about a substance called ‘bum glue’ when it came to writing his books. While it sounds like a magical substance, there’s nothing magical about it, and it’s not something you can buy at the local store. ‘Bum glue’ is simply the discipline involved in sitting in your seat and getting your writing done. And it’s not just reserved for novelists. It can be applied to any kind of writing. So why not give it a try. I often find that bum glue is only necessary for around 10 minutes of solid writing. After that, my head is in the zone, and my fingers are happily tapping away.

Take a break

If after trying some of the strategies above you still can’t bring yourself to write, take a break. It may be for an hour, half a day, a whole day, or a couple of days — only you will know how much time you need. Time away from the keyboard and your computer screen, doing something totally unrelated, will free up your mind. You’ll probably find that when you come back, you are eager to get started, and you’ll have one of your most productive sessions.

So, the next time you can’t be bothered to write (and you know you really need to), try some of the above strategies. And if you have any of your own that work, let me know. I would love to hear them.

In the meantime, if you have writing that needs to be done, and you just can’t bring yourself to do it, why not contact me and see if I can help.

Cheers
Nerissa

 

 

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The freelance writer’s guide to working in the school holidays

Writing in school holidays

If you’re a freelance writer with kids, school holidays can be a tricky (and sometimes, frustrating) time.

Let’s be honest. In the freelance writing game, it’s very often ‘feast or famine’ — either too much work or not enough. And for the first few years, it’s very tempting to say ‘yes’ to any work that comes your way, until you are well-established in your field.

As luck (or Murphy’s Law) would have it, my busiest times have usually been during school holidays. This has often meant a stressful holiday period, trying to balance meeting deadlines and holiday fun. It is further compounded by the fact that writing for a living isn’t as simple as sitting down for a few hours and ‘getting it done’.

 

The zone — a near impossible place to find with kids around

Writing often means needing to be in the ‘zone’ — feeling the inspiration and getting the words to flow freely, rather than trying to extricate them one by one. As a health writer, I also need time to research my topic.

As any writer would know, the zone isn’t something you can turn on and off. It’s either there or it’s not. Sure, there are things you can do to help you get in the zone, but with a couple of noisy (and sometimes arguing) children in the background, getting there can be difficult. Even if you manage to find your way there, that magic place where the writing comes easy, can be shattered in an instant with the words “Mum, I’m hungry” or cries of “Stop it! Leave me alone!”

In the past, working during school holidays has meant early mornings, late nights and working across the weekends. By the time school term started up again, I was in need of a holiday myself. But of course, everything else that had been put on the back-burner while I was juggling work and school holiday activities was beckoning.

 

A different approach

After a couple of years trying to juggle deadlines, business activities and school holiday activities, I realised something had to give. So I started saying ‘no’ to new projects for those couple of weeks.

Instead, I work intermittently while I can, on things that are not urgent. They also don’t require me to be ‘in the zone’ so much, which means that I can make the most of snippets of time that becomes available.

 

Attend to non-urgent but important tasks

Things I focus on during this time include updating my website, researching for upcoming articles, planning out the remainder of my year, setting goals, planning social media posts, updating my folio, learning new things that will have a positive impact upon my business, as well as building relationships with key people.

Quite frankly, it’s been great. Instead of fitting school holidays (and the kids) around work, I’m fitting in my work around them. The great thing about this approach is that I don’t feel guilt. No guilt about not spending time with the kids when I’m working, and no guilt about not working when I’m with the kids.

 

Do less and be more productive

Interestingly, the quality of my work is a lot higher because I’m focusing more on what I want to get done, rather than the ever-present ticking clock when it comes to deadlines. I also don’t have to deal with the problem of how I’m going to fit it all in. There is a lot less frustration, because writing deadlines are not in the picture. It’s an arrangement that seems to work for me, and one that I will endeavour to employ in future school holidays.

 

Do you need to pull back in the holiday period?

It’s very easy to get caught up in the busyness of work and family life It’s even more easy to be swamped by the juggle that is work and school holidays. One thing I have learnt however, is that sometimes we need to take something out of the picture in order to have more balance, more fun and less stress.

And funnily enough, having that bit of time off means I am more than ready to get stuck into work when the kids return to school.

If you’re a freelance writer trying to juggle kids and school holidays, try pulling back a bit to see what a difference it can make to you.

 

Cheers
Nerissa

NOTE: With only one school term left this year, and my diary filling up, opportunities to work with me this year are dwindling. If you don’t want to miss out, contact me TODAY to see how I can help you.

 

 

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