Tip #6 - Write With Interruptions

Write With Interruptions

I’ll begin by clarifying that the word ‘Interruptions’ does not mean ‘Distractions.’

One of the leading causes of the state of mind known as “writers block” is fatigue. For whatever reason the vast majority of writers have convinced themselves that the key to successful writing is to write nonstop in a single session or in as few sessions as possible. This causes the writer to quickly burnout. First, they exhaust they’re original ideas. Then, they begin to force the process and as a result they lose interest in the project they’re working on. This behavior should be avoided. Some can successfully pull it off, but it’s the minority of writers that can.

Counter-intuitively, less is more. Writing in short bursts that follow one another is a great way to break up the loss of interest and by extension focus. There are many ways to accomplish this same task, but the focus of this tip is Interruption. Now, don’t confuse the tip’s name. Interruptions that aren’t planned will suck you out of flow and work the same in fatiguing you. So for the sake of clarity we’ll label those as Distractions instead. Getting back into a state of flow is a complex struggle and it’s quite energy draining. Strategic interruptions on the other hand come with the purpose of re-energizing the writer with new focus and fresh ideas.

All that is required to try this tip is a list of short errands and an alarm to be set.
The general concept could be accomplished in the following two steps.

  1. The writer should give themselves a realistic amount of time to write. Not too short. Not too long. The aim is ‘just right.’ It should be long enough to get down any knew fresh ideas in their rawest form without too much time left to modify them in anyway. This length should always be just enough to begin the exhaustion process and stop the writing process just as focus begins to drift away.
    This could be accomplished easily with 20 or 50 minute write sessions. The times are explained in the next step.

  2. On this second step the writer should aim to complete a short, ten minute, simple, easy, little focus required errand that allows the mind to wander. Washing dishes or cleaning something swiftly at home or at the office will be distracting enough and require little focus. The idea is that as the mind wanders new and fresh ideas will begin to develop. Unable to write the ideas down until the errand is done creates a desperation to get back to the writing process. A new ‘Want’ develops. And where you were losing focus now you return with the tank full again.
    - If it was a 20 minute write session with a ten minute errand stacked on top, a nice 30 minutes go by. Rinsing and repeating this breaks a 3 hour write schedule into 6 write sessions and 6 finished errands.
    - If it was a 50 minute write session with ten minute errands stacked on top, a hefty hour went by. On a 3 hour write schedule this is 3 lengthy individual writing sessions and 3 errands completed.

Needless to say the time is to be adjusted accordingly for each individual writer as we all have attention spans of different lengths and we all get energized from being away from our writing at different speeds. But 20 and 50 are good start times. If you struggle to focus aim lower, if you can do longer sessions happily start higher. But ultimately customize it to your benefit.

This same strategy can by applied to soothing the editing process as well. Use the same method of giving yourself a set amount of time to edit and when the timer goes off take a ten minute break.

An alternative method of accomplishing the same task in both writing and editing is to give yourself an exact goal rather than time yourself.

  • Writing: Choose a number of words you plan to write down and don’t leave until you reach that goal (100 words for example.) When you reach the goal give yourself a ten minute break. Then come back and do it again.

  • Editing: Choose a set number of pages to edit and do not leave until you finish them (Two entire pages for example.) When you’ve finished them give yourself a ten minute break. Then come back and do it again.

Repeat this process for the course of two or three hours and see how far you get. By giving yourself short burst goals you might find it easier to get a lot done. Rather than forcing your way to the end with work you’re not pleased with take a breather and remember why you want to do this in the first place. Give your brain, focus, creativity and imagination a break once in a while. Let them breath. You go breath. Do something different and free yourself from getting bored. Come back refreshed and get the job done.