Time Wasters for Writers

So, I had a thought. I was sitting at my desk, with my new WIP open, and I found myself in a situation that I often find myself in. I was checking Twitter to see if my latest Tweets had garnered any attention. Then, I checked email to see if I had any new notifications there. Then I had to check my Facebook game to see if it was time for my next turn. I waited for the turn for a couple of minutes, took my turn, and then checked Twitter to see if my latest Tweets had garnered any attention.

Do you see the pattern here?

It is amazing that writers get any work done nowadays, as we are glued to the self-promotional venues and brain escapes that social media has to offer. What makes this worse is that we have constant access to these things. We can have our accounts spread across tablets, notebooks, PCs, phones, and more – all at the same time – so that we may access everything, anywhere, at any given time.

I’m like you. I’m not likely to delete my social media accounts for the simple fact that I am on them too much. But I do notice when it works against my creative process and dominates too much of the time that could be spent writing.

If you are at your computer writing, you are most likely checking your Facebook, email, and Twitter (just to name a few) on your web browser. Close those web browser tabs. You do not need them up. You may keep your research tabs, your Thesaurus.com tab, and your Google Docs tab open – if you are writing in Google Docs. That’s all you need – for thirty minutes at a time. Then, for five minutes, play. Play your heart out. Click your game. Tweet your tweets. Share your posts. And then close those tabs once more.

If your distractions are coming to you via your cellphone or a different device while you are writing, you can disable notifications on the apps for the duration of your writing period. It might sound like a pain turning the notifications off and then back on each time, but that pain will save you a lot of time that will be spent writing.

Another type of time waster is the ‘I just finished a…’ reward. This is a reward that a writer gives oneself after having completed a chapter or a page or an outline. This is the ‘pat on the back’ that we give ourselves for a job well done.

We all deserve a reward – usually it is a break away from what we’re working on. Often, it is a cigarette, a glass of wine, a snack, or more time on the social distractions. Again, it is perfectly fine to reward oneself, but be reasonable about how often you do this. Completing a page deserves the reward of acknowledgement. “Hey, I just completed a page! Cool!” And then you move on to the next page. Completing a chapter is a little better. Stand up, walk away from your desk for a moment, and take a breath. You did it. You’re on to the next chapter. Literally. Go back to your desk and start the next chapter. Complete two chapters or more – hit those Social Media demons, have that snack, enjoy that wine, smoke that cigarette. You’ve earned it.

Here is a final time waster for you, and it is one that you may not even be aware you are doing. Scanning over what you have already written to recall character names, descriptions, locations and relations. All writers have to remember these details, and when you’re halfway or more through a book, it can become a heck of a lot to recall.

Create a new document where you list your characters, locations, etc., and any additional important information you feel like you might need later. Keep this document open while you are writing, and use it as a reference when you need to remember something. Add to it often and keep it organized. It works splendidly for me, and I think it could for you as well.

I hope you enjoyed these tips and that you find them useful in your writing pursuits.

Until I have another thought,

Jae El Foster


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