There’s much talk about whether writers should rethink the butt-in-chair mentality. Though we can get into the physical part of writing, and how exercise is important to writers (and basically everyone else, too), today we’re just going to talk about the importance of getting your work done.
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The Importance of Writers Putting Their Butt in the Chair & Completing Their Writing Goals
If you’re anything like me, as we started or are starting our journey, we’re working or going to school. Whether full-time or part-time, it doesn’t matter.
And that’s not all.
I have writer friends who have children or go to university. I have one friend who lives on a farm. Yup, with horses and cows and a garden. And, yes, she writes. Not a lot and not every day, but she writes and chugs along her writerly journey.
All that being said, I also know full-time writers where all they do is write and publish with their agent.
I think connecting with other writers is one of the most important part of the process. Community means a lot to a lot of people and it’s just one of those things that tends to motivate and inspire you.
Connecting with the Writing Community
Connecting within the community can instill accountability. Find a critique partner, but what are you going to give them? The only way to swap the next chapters in your manuscript is to actually write them.
And how do you do that? By putting your butt in the chair.
Just like everything else, writing is a sometimes tireless journey. There’ll be ups and downs that may deflate your motivation or lift you high into the clouds.
But writers write for the same reason musicians play and athletes train. There’s an undying passion written into every word, and we’re just trying to keep our souls happy.
Have you ever “taken a break” or just not written for a while? And as a result you just felt like something was missing? Like, you felt weird and out of wack?
That’s your passion telling you to realign.
It’s interesting how such a simple lack of something can totally throw off your entire mind, body, soul vibes.
Staying Organized & Sane As A Writer
So, what things can you do make sure you stay in a positive mindset, and remain in a great place to get all the things you have to do done to ensure you can get your butt in the chair by the end of the week?
Tip #1 Keeping an updated calendar.
If you’ve read my blog, you might be able to guess this first strategy: planning, scheduling, and putting it all on your calendar. A calendar is no longer just for your work and doctor appointments, so get that out of your head.
I schedule everything in my day. I schedule when I wake up, when I leave for my morning commute, my work schedule, how I use my breaks and lunches to work for me, my commute home, and what I do exactly when I get there: including cleaning, cooking, dinnertime, and when I work towards my passion.
Yes, television and bedtime is on there, too. Literally, every 15 minute block of my day is scheduled on my calendar.
I bet you think I use some crazy calendar or super expensive printed planner. Or a variation of both…and that is totally correct!
I use Google calendar for my digital calendar, which highlights my basic calendar, and a printed monthly/weekly/daily planner that I created myself (in Word) to nail down exactly what I’m working on.
To reiterate, I use Google’s calendar for my schedule, which includes where I’m spending my time and if I have any group activities or appointments; and I use a printed on regular 8.5×11 paper and then subsequently folded planner that I created in a basic word processor, to organize exactly what I’m working on.
For example, I work on my novels and blog starting at 5pm and usually go until 6pm. This is what goes into my Google calendar. In my printed planner that I carry with me, I’ll put that I’m writing my blog post on Monday, writing chapters 1-5 on Tuesday, and so forth.
Google’s calendar is free and available with their email account and I’m offering my printables for free, too. Sign up for my email newsletter here and I’ll send you the printables I use to organize my day.
I print my printable in color, so it costs a little more, but you can print it in black and white and get just as much use out of it. But basically, when I was starting, I was trying to spend as little as possible, and really think about what and where I was spending my money.
It didn’t help that NONE of the planners that I looked at had what I was looking for.
You might also be concerned that you won’t stick to your planner. That was a fear for me. And don’t think about all those people saying that “the more you spend on something, the more you’ll use it,” because that’s not always the case.
If everyone used that mentality, then what would be the point of reading blogs, listening to podcasts, or watching YouTube videos? Those are free, too, and YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, next to Google (which is also free).
It’s all about your commitment to use the tools you have, whatever the price.
Tip #2 Create an arsenal of tools and use them!
Keeping an updated list of tools will definitely help you through the writing process, and if any of them have reoccurring charges, it’ll also help you stay on top of those in terms of budgeting and payment.
My current roster of writing tools are:
- SkillShare – Where I learn everything I’ve ever wanted to know!
- ConvertKit – My go-to application for email marketing
- Google Docs – Basically, great for everything
- Trello – The best-of-the-best project management tool
- IngramSpark – The most diverse indie author publishing tool
- ProWritingAid – A comprehensive editing tool
- Grammerly – Another comprehensive grammar tool
I’m always on the lookout for new tools that make my life easier and allow me to better run my endeavor. A writer’s life can be hard enough, and if you don’t believe me, try getting stuck on a scene you haven’t prepared for.
Writing tools are an easy way to make your life run smoother and breathe easier, so you can focus on your craft.
Tools aren’t just for big companies and they’re essential for a productive writer life. If you’re having trouble finding exactly what you need, I’d recommend trying a few great tools to find the one that best suits your needs.
And don’t be afraid to switch it up. I used one email service for five years before I finally switched (because it no longer suited my needs). You and your business will change. Don’t be afraid to change with it.
Tip #3 Focus on time optimizing and habit building.
By focusing on time optimization and habit building, you’re focusing less on the exact task and more about creating a routine that is both sensible and feasible for you. With a routine in place, you get rid of the conscious part of what you’re doing.
When we repeat things over and over, we gradually become better at the task and can accomplish them quicker, which is ideal for optimal time efficiency and productivity.
Routines are sort of like your body on autopilot and you’re almost compelled to do the work.
And don’t waste time on social media. Don’t get me wrong – social media has a time and place, but only during certain blocks of calendar time. NOT 15 minutes at the top of every hour.
Controversial Hot Tip: Dare to say “NO!” (But, nicely.)
When it comes to making your dreams your reality, nothing should stand in your way. And no one should make you feel badly about reaching for them. If someone does, it’s a good sign they aren’t “your people”. They might not be out for your best interests.
So, basically, when it comes to your writing, do yourself a favor and get off your butt, and then put it back in the chair and get your work done. Or…in simpler terms: Put your butt in the chair and write!
Unless you have a standing desk. But that’s an entirely different conversation.