One simple trick to overcome chaos in your writing life
Does the chaos of everyday life interfere with your writing schedule? It may seem like you can’t succeed if you can’t organize your writing life like a typical 9-5. For many writers I’ve known, balancing a full-time freelance writing life, even for ghostwriters, seems impossible without the structure of a professional office.
To be honest, though, trying to stick to a schedule was always disastrous for me until I learned the one little trick that brought order to chaos – or at least let me work with it instead of against it.
The Problem with 9-5
Having a day scheduled to standard office hours works for a lot of people, but what if it doesn’t? I went into freelancing because the traditional office schedule wasn’t working at all for me. Why would I try to duplicate that at home?
Full-time writing from home is different from standard office work, but you can’t ditch schedules altogether. They just look a little different and are a lot more flexible from day to day. There are lots of great articles on this subject, such as this one by Nancy Miller that discusses scheduling your writing life through the year or this one from Writer’s Digest that talks about scheduling your writing projects in order to meet deadlines.
But chaos and life have a way of interfering with all your careful plans. [click to tweet]
When you write full-time, whether as a copywriter, creative writer, or ghostwriter, your ability to set up your day in whatever way works best for you may be more limited than you hoped. If you’ve been trying, and failing, to create a writing schedule, maybe a daily schedule is not the best answer for you.
For the same reason I’m not cut out for an office job, it’s pretty impossible for me to stick to a ‘typical day’ even when I’m supposedly in charge of the schedule. Some days work well, others, not so much, but I still need to get the work done.
The trick that changed it all
The trick that changed things for me was creating specific rituals. You’ve already got some of these established. When you get up in the morning, there are things you do without even thinking about it – brush teeth, brush hair, wash face, do yoga, etc.
It’s the same principle when you’re building a writing life while also dealing with a chaotic life. Create a ritual that automatically places you in writing mode. It could be sitting in a certain position or workspace, listening to a specific song or music genre, closing down everything but your word processor, doing a sacred dance around the campfire.
Come up with something that works for you without requiring a lot of time of its own.
With your ritual established, all you need is the discipline to start it and the rest takes care of itself. On a good day, it may not seem all that necessary. But on those other days, when nothing seems to go as planned, your ritual is what will help you catch those precious moments that can make the difference between hitting a deadline and losing a client.
Being able to get restarted after multiple interruptions is the real key to this trick. By having a ritual, you’re programming your brain to kick in when you need it, even if it’s late. There’s even scientific evidence to back this up.
One benefit of the ghostwriting lifestyle is that if your life gets a little chaotic, you can write in the middle of the night if you need to but you may need a few other skills besides just a ritual to get started. I’ll tell you more about that in another letter, though.
Think about it for a minute and tell me what rituals do you already have in your day? When or how do you fit in time for writing?
Wendy the Word Witch