Image by: Jayel Aheram
#1) To-Do Lists Make You Productive
About five months ago, I made it a habit to write out a to-do list for the following day. I found my summer to be productive and I ended up accomplishing a lot (including landing my first freelance writing gig). Since then (actually, after moving back into my hometown), I’ve stopped and found myself lacking in discipline.
For the past two days I’ve rekindled that habit. I got all of my work done in the morning which left the afternoon/evening free for writing fiction and doing silly things like obsessing over Supernatural reruns.
Last night I couldn’t find my notebook and decided that I didn’t need a list for today. Boy, was that a mistake. Yesterday I finished work by noon. Today I still have half of my daily workload to do and it’s already 11:50.
So as far as my experience is concerned, to-do lists make you more productive, disciplined, and it feels mighty good to cross off those pesky work tasks.
When you work at home, self-discipline is really something that you need to have, lest you find yourself behind with work. And when that happens, everything goes to excrement. Nasty, smelly, gooey excrement. Pea soup excrement. Hershey’s kisses excrement. Sorry for the visual but it needed to be done. It was for your own good.
#2) Don’t Trust Anything To Memory
I get my best ideas in the shower. Or rather, I get my best ideas when I am normally without a pen and paper. Because of that, I end up saying, “I’ll have to remember that for later.” Ugh, don’t do that. I’m serious.
If you are in the shower and you get a brilliant idea, your best bet is to get out of the shower (screaming and naked). As soon as you’re not on slippery ground, run until you find something to write on, then jot your epiphany down. I don’t care if you live in a dorm or if your smelly brother is in the next room. I don’t care if you’ve got a roomful of nuns next door. You won’t remember your idea if you wait any longer.
Better yet, keep a notebook with you at all times. Just one of those tiny Mead notebooks and a little pen should do just fine. Or keep a notebook and pen in every room in your house and every bag/purse/shoe/jacket pocket that you own. Trust me.
#3) It Is Good Practice
Handwritten notes are really a lost art form. Everyone works on their laptops or smart phones anymore, which is fine but there’s something about literally writing something down that totally changes your frame-of-mind.
For example, other than writing down some notes (or a letter), I normally pick up a pen and some paper when I’m writing something heartfelt: a poem, romantic short story, something like that. My writing changes when I used different tools, not drastically but enough so that it is slightly noticeable.
#4) First Draft
You’re going to think that I’m crazy but I think that writing out your first draft by hand is a great practice. Yes, even if you’re a novelist. You’re going to have to make multiple drafts anyway. So why not make your first draft handwritten? When it comes to typing it up, you don’t have to do it at once.
One of my writer friends hand-writes first, then transfers it to her computer section by section (around a chapter at a time). Write a chapter, then type it in. Write two chapters, then type it in. You get the picture. It can be a tedious process but it makes the editing/revising portion of writing just a tad bit easier and you get to really look at how you write.
Personally, I think that messing around with your writing process sometimes (read: trying new things) can really help. Especially when you’re dealing with writer’s block.
Writers do just that, we write. Sometimes we are drawn to it because we have a story to tell. Sometimes we do it because we find that the written word is an easier way of communicating. Sometimes we do it because we are driven to do it and we don’t know why. It is just what we do. But because of that, we need to make sure that we are at the top of our game.
Good luck, everyone! I hope this has helped you at least a little bit. And if not, at least you’ll never look at a Hershey’s kiss the same again.
Image by: Jlhopgood