Top Five Ways to Restart Your Writing

Last night, I (it’s KJ here) was on a Zoom call with 20 fellow writers, members of a long-time group of colleagues who write in varied genres and on varied topics—but we all had one universality: at this moment, early in the CoVid crisis, we’re struggling to focus and prioritize our work over refreshing our news feeds—particularly if our work feels distant from the pressing situation around us. But we all want to be writing (and we really don’t want to be refreshing those feeds).

If you’re in that same boat, here are a few ideas for hitting the reset button and getting some work—any work, as long as it’s writing work—done.

  1. Set a timer. 55 minutes is my time increment of choice, because it’s long enough to get engrossed if I’m lucky or to reset myself if I’m interrupted, but any amount of time will do. I set the timer, then put the phone somewhere else and enter “full screen” on my computer so I can’t see the time (or work on paper). It doesn’t matter how much I write. The goal is just to focus on the work at hand for that period. I did two today, on two different tasks, and I feel like a million bucks. Or at least, less like a wrung out dishrag.

  2. Find a new spot. One challenge I’m facing is that I can’t work where I’m accustomed to work, because there are now five additional people in the house doing varying things at varying volumes. Consciously making a decision about where I’m going to work on concentrated writing is helping me re-establish a routine.

  3. Virtual co-working. This one comes from one of my colleagues, who has been joining a Zoom call in which no one talks for an hour a day. “Looking up and seeing everyone else just sitting there making their weird writer faces helps more than I ever imagined it would,” she said. Try Zoom (free for small groups) Skype or Jitsu to set up your own—and don’t wait for someone else to do it. If this sounds good to you, reach out to some fellow writers and try it out.

  4. Read in your genre. I know, a lot of us intentionally don’t read in the genre we’re writing in while drafting (I do, but many writers say they don’t). Now might be the time to remind yourself of why this genre is your jam—and why it matters that you get your contribution to it done.

  5. Snuggle in or walk out with your favorite inspiration. Whether it’s Stephen King’s On Writing on audio or a tattered copy of The Art of the Book Proposal, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic or 2K to 10K—grab something that’s worked for you before and replace your online scrolling with that whenever you can.

If you’ve got more ideas, join us in the #AmWriting Facebook group and share.

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