I get an idea for a book. I get excited. I think about it all day. I set aside an hour, two hours, sometimes a day, specifically for and only for writing said book. But when I sit down at that scheduled time, those urges kick in – send an "urgent" email, change the fire alarm batteries, tweet that I #amwriting but really scroll through the latest trending topic... you know the drill.
It’s not that I don’t want to work on the book – I do! But the blank page is scary, the pressure to get to a certain word count is scarier, and if you’ve got one of those “progress meters” that show you how far you’ve got to go, that’s the scariest thing of all.
Last year I wrote a post about mini-retreats – writing a first draft in 250 words a day. It worked well for me at the time, because I need to take it slow and figure out the story.
This time, I know the story I want to tell and when I’m not at my laptop I’m writing it in my head. By the time I can sit down and work on it, it should be easy to get a few thousand words out in one go, right? Absolutely. In fact, I'm just going to do that right O LOOK AT THE BABY AYE AYE
|Baby Aye-Aye also fears the first draft.|
(photo by Chris Corwin)
Yes, I, Michelle Schusterman, am a focus-impaired writer. It's a disease that eventually afflicts all who work online, and unfortunately, there is no cure. Aside from, like, Internet abstinence, which....no.
But I have discovered a method that works for me, and if you suffer from focus impairment, it can work for you too. In fact, 60% of the time, it works. Every time.
Step 1: Work 1 hour at your freelancing, personal training, duchessing, or other occupation.
Step 2: Write 150 words.
Step 3: Work 1 hour answering phones, taking notes, or organizing LOLcats in order of relevance to your life.
Step 4: Write 150 words.
Step 5: Order lunch, make lunch, or put out any small kitchen fires.
Step 6: Write 150 words.
Step 7: Work 1 hour filing bills, preparing tax returns or watching the best song ever on YouTube.
Step 8: Write 150 words.
Step 9: You see where I'm going here.
Go about your regular work day, but at least once every hour, stop and write 150 words on that first draft. That's less than half of this blog post. 150 words! That’s nothing! That’s like eight tweets!
Using this method, I’ve found I can get over 1,000 words a day easily, sometimes over 1,500, which is much higher than I could ever expect my tweet-filled YouTube-comment-horrorstruck Tumbld-over brain to churn out all at once.
If you suffer from focus-impairment, give this method a shot. Embrace your inability to focus - use it! Because the alternative – limiting online shenanigans, the source of our focus woes – is too horrifying to contemplate.