I already love 2016. I’m only five days in, but I have a brand-spanking new office to write in (complete with a whole wall of bookshelves!) and a plethora of ideas for writing. 2016 isn’t going to be without its challenges though–one big one in particular. And here’s what it is: As of January 1, I became a full-time, self-employed freelance writer. Yikes. Part of me wants to break out my party pants and do a little jig. The other more cautious, not-so-much-a-risk-taker part of me wants to hide under my security blanket and a mound of pillows for the next twelve months.
Here’s my writing plan to keep myself from hibernating (and this, fellow writers, is a plan you can follow and tweak to help yourself overcome writer’s block, or to jumpstart your own writing business, or to write the next great American novel):
Write at a set time every day. My set time every day is 1 pm* until whenever I’m finished. Starting in the early afternoon gives me time to finish random tasks around the house, run to the grocery store, and take care of my family. Your set time may need to be right away in the morning, late at night after everyone has gone to bed, or over your lunch at your 9-5 (heaven knows I pulled plenty of lunch break writing sessions. I hate writing over my ham sandwich, but you gotta do what you gotta do). *Disclaimer: my writing time may change as I constantly re-evaluate my routine to find what works best for me. Don’t feel so tied to a certain time that you don’t allow yourself to write during the best part of your day.
Ignore the dishes and dust. Now that I work from home, my biggest challenge will be to ignore my messy house. I’m somewhat of a neat freak (meaning that I use cleaning and laundry and washing dishes as a form of procrastination). But sometimes out of chaos rises the most creativity. To truly be successful at what I do, I’m going to have to overlook the mess to accomplish whatever freelance tasks I have for the day. Easier said than done. Maybe you’re not a neat freak and could care less about mess. You have your own unique distractions, however, whether they’re video games, binge watching NCIS on Netflix, or that stack of books from the library. Find a way to overcome your distractions, otherwise writing will never be something you do consistently.
Write at a set place every day. I’m hopeful that writing in the same place every day will help me overcome the dishes and dust. I count myself lucky because my family helped me turn our attic into a lovely writing space–I’m pretty enamored with it right now. No more couch freelancing for me! Even if you don’t have room for a distinct writing office or the manpower to turn a space into a writing office, don’t despair. Any little nook can be turned into a writing nook with the help of a comfortable chair, a desk, and a computer. Eventually you’ll probably want to expand to include a file cabinet and some extra storage space, but really, the basics will get you by for a long time.
Take a walk. Or do yoga. Or something. Staying active will help keep my mind clear and creative. As much as I enjoy a brisk walk, though, this winter weather does a pretty good job of keeping me house bound (ever hear of black ice? Yeah, I want to keep my bones intact this winter, thank you very much), so I’ll probably resort to yoga or P90X (don’t tell my abs. They’ve enjoyed their Christmas break) until warmer days return. It doesn’t really matter which type of exercise you choose, just choose something. Into jumping jacks? Then do 500. A natural swimmer? Then get ye to the YMCA. Marathoner? Find a track or a trail somewhere and marathon yourself into oblivion. Just get active.
What about you? What’s your writing plan this new year?