With a full-time job, social life, family, and other obligations, you may find it difficult to find time to write. Here are five tips for finishing that project in a time-boxed manner.
- Get your butt in that chair. You may be familiar with the “butt in chair time” concept if you work in technology or other demanding field. The idea is that you’re not putting in the work unless you’re present at your desk. That’s a terrible concept in the workplace, but it’s fantastic for writing. I have some good news and some bad news: Your muse? She doesn’t exist. If you wait for your muse to show up before you sit down to write, you’ll never finish that poem/project/novel. What counts in writing is butt in chair time and fingers on keyboard time (or pen on paper time, if you roll that way). Sit there. Even if nothing is happening. Learn to love writer’s block. Eventually, the words will come.
- Read, read, and read. When it’ s not your allotted time for writing, read some more. Reading is absolutely the best way to learn how to write. Pick books that are totally different from your writing style, very similar to your writing style, and everything in between. If you’re writing a romance, read plenty of romances but also plenty of mysteries, and vice versa. Get some inspiration. No, browsing the web doesn’t count (see below).
- Shut down social media. Close those tabs. Your BFF can wait for you to post that kitten photo another day. You can hold off on looking at your BFF’s kitten photos until another day. All the kitten and puppy photos will still be there, when you’re done writing. Prioritize the writing.
- Don’t write and edit at the same time. Editing is by nature a destructive act. It must be done, but when you are there to create, just create. Save a separate allotment of time for editing. When you’re in revision mode, then you can put on your editor’s cap. Separate the two. Say, Saturdays are for revisions, and Sundays are for adding more words. When you’re there to add words, resist the urge to go back and change what you’ve already written.
- Set a schedule. Whatever you have time for. I set aside 2-3 hours a day in the evening. Whatever it is, stick to it. Make it regular. Get your coffee/herbal tea/snacks lined up. Free yourself from distraction. Get someone else to do the dishes/do the laundry/babysit the kids for that precious hour or two. You’ll be surprised what you can write in a short period of time once you stick to the schedule. When the time is up, stop writing! This may sound counterintuitive, but you can’t write if you never recharge. Eventually you’ll train yourself to write on the schedule, recharge off the schedule.
I am in the middle of novel revisions, so naturally I am updating my language generators. I get kind of obsessed with them.
Random language generator
Lorem ipsem language generator
This demo generates lorem ipsem text up to as many paragraphs as you specify. Use it for your web design projects. It is created using Markov chains applied to a very long sample of pre-existing lorem ipsem.
Markov chain language generator
In a Markov chain model, the probability of each item (in this case a word) is based on the state of the previous item. A Markov chain language generator can generate real-sounding text given a source document by predicting which word will follow next after each word. Sample documents here include Alice in Wonderland, Ulysses, my very own vampire novel, the King James Bible, a Latin Bible, a few other texts, and user input where you can enter your own text.
I spent a good eight hours today revamping ankiewicz.com, and enlarging all the thumbnail images, bandwidth be damned. I am writing a novel, so naturally I spent all day twiddling with images that have nothing to do with my novel. In the interest of preparing for this novel, I wanted to start a blog about writing, procrastination, and the process. I debated five ways to Sunday whether or not to host my blog on wordpress.com, or ankiewicz.com. Pros to self-hosting: complete control of the look and feel. Cons to self-hosting: no real access to the community and wordpress.com ecosystem.
It’s probably six of one. I decided to host the blog here on wordpress.com.
There are a lot of frog photos on ankiewicz.com
My form of procrastination is a random language generator.
It makes little paragraphs like this:
- None of the nude cheese lets everything speak of her tryout. Some fiercely stunning pauses speak of her. She says, medium-size. He replies, collecting operatives. They say, mad.
- I yearn for an oval, parental, and crimson layer. Azure housemothers can gladly take her overcast border. She says, corned. He replies, confusing those heretics. They say, confused.
- They grin at something. Those customers have these discerning outlooks. She says, blorpy. He replies, rubbing the stuff. They say, nervous.
Feel free to use those sentences in your own writing projects.
I am a little obsessed with it. I strive to make it better and better. I want the output to be as natural-sounding as possible. It is satisfying when it spits out realistic-sounding sentences. It’s extremely satisfying when the grammar is correct. I spent hours getting the plurals of the nouns to match the verbs. I spent forever deciding whether or not a sentence needs an adjective, an adverb, or a prepositional phrase.
It will never produce a novel. If I spend half as much energy on my novel as I do on this thing, I’d be done by now. Yet, I am fascinated by the process of creating machine-generated sentences. I am drawn to it. Occasionally, from an unexpected and surprising turn of phrase, I get inspiration.
I find myself getting lost in sites like this, imagining how I would emulate such rules in my own language generator: http://www.gingersoftware.com/content/grammar-rules/adjectives/order-of-adjectives/
What’s your form of procrastination?
The recreational furnace checks the operational equator between a hapless fiver. The unmoved brick. Protecting. The broken pumper battles the loud workshirt, says inherent, sincerely. I reply, fatuous. An unique moth admits the cumulative curfew amongst the sinuous solo.
An unconvincing tambourine books a stupid offensive. A fetal masque. Suspending. The boring broom buzzs the attributable squash, says hollow, jealously. I reply, normal. A capitalistic sounding attracts the skilled prodigality.