I would start writing, but I still have 157 minutes of procrastinating to go.
Sound familiar? It does to me, too. I procrastinated for decades, always telling myself I didn’t have the time or I wasn’t good enough or my story wasn’t interesting enough or I’d never get a book published. So why would I sit down and write? Why? Because I have something to say. Whether it’s a blog, a book, a personal story of pain or joy, or a note to a loved one, I believe we all have something to say. But it’s not easy. Sometimes we find our enthusiasm, sit down, and write for a day or two or five; then the enthusiasm wanes and we stop. Our words sit in a dark corner of the hard drive and our minds, haunting, possibly shaming us. Then what?
In May of 2020, early into the pandemic, I joined an online accountability group of other writers, strangers from around the world, all wanting to write and to have accountability for moving their projects forward. We have formed significant friendships. And in those eleven months, several of the writers in this group have published or soon-to-be-published works. Every day, Monday through Friday, I am inspired and motivated by them. Across several time zones—some enjoying coffee, some just getting off work or delaying dinner—we log into a video-conferencing account, catch each other up on projects or life in general, then we turn off cameras and mics and write, separately, before checking in and signing off the platform at the end of the 90 minutes.
What this accountability group has done for me is created a habit. My habit today is to write for 90 minutes per day, often using the Pomodoro Technique; that is, setting a timer for 30 minutes, two to three times in that hour and a half (or throughout the day), and writing without looking at the screen, without editing. Incorrect punctuation, misspellings, and typos can wait until later—much later. I deal with errors in the editing phase weeks or months down the road. Using this method moves me into a deeper level of consciousness. Call it speed writing or automatic writing or mindless writing, my brain connects ideas, remembers events once forgotten and, perhaps, the emotions surrounding them, or the minutia of a setting. Before I began using this technique, I would write 300 to 500 words a day—“perfect” words, “perfect” sentences; now I write thousands of words a day—“imperfect” words, “imperfect” sentences, but at least they are written, stored, and saved.
For some, 30 minutes may be too long to sit and write. The idea is to set a habit every day where you write, undistracted by cell phones, emails, dirty dishes calling from the kitchen sink, or last night’s leftovers in the fridge enticing you. So set a timer for 20 minutes, 15 minutes, or 10 minutes a day and just write! It is progress toward the completion of your story.
So let’s get started. Go!
If you would like help in starting an accountability writing group of your own, email me.