Protect Your Writing Time

I can now say from experience that as soon as you call yourself a freelance writer, everything will encroach on your writing time. Your drama queen friend will have a crisis, someone will tell you you’re not really working, and before you know it, your productive day has devolved into playing Plants vs. Zombies while talking to six different people on the phone. Or maybe that only happens to me.

The good news is there are many ways that we can take back our writing time. And this will work for the full-time freelancer just as well as the full-time employee who wants to write a novel or my fellow crazy people who will be completing NaNoWriMo next month. Here’s the plan:

Create writing hours – It doesn’t matter if your office is the kitchen table or the back booth at the local truck stop diner. As of now, writing time may only be compromised if it involves blood, a fire, or possibly a zombie apocalypse. Decide on your writing time. Tell everyone that you will be writing during that time. For the record, it doesn’t have to be hours – it can be twenty minutes or as much time as you want.

Make sure you write – This may be the hardest part. Sometimes it’s a lot easier and more fun to check Facebook and Twitter, and then remember you need to go on the pharmacy’s website and order prescription refills. By that time you have email, so you click over to check your message. Then the phone rings…

Turn off the phone – If you can’t actually shut off the phone, at least screen your calls. You don’t have to answer the phone just because it rings, especially when you’re supposed to be writing.

Avoid doing research (during writing hours) – I have recently discovered that I am more productive when I do research and then write. I can go back and check facts after my project is completed. I don’t stop writing to look up a fact. Instead, I mark it with the highlight feature in Word and keep going. Checking my work is what revisions are for. Press on.

If you’re really tempted – Software is available to help us focus. MacFreedom (also available for PC, don’t be fooled by the name) blocks internet access for a specified amount of time. This company also makes Anti-Social, which, you guessed correctly, blocks social media sites. Write or Die punishes the tendency to stop writing with a pop up, an annoying sound or it starts slowly deleting what you have written if you stop typing for too long.

My biggest motivator is that I have told everyone I know that I am a freelance writer. So if I slink back to corporate America after making that announcement… Well, let’s just say my friends aren’t the type to let that pass unmentioned. So I have to write, for fear of complete public humiliation. As a bonus, this puts the fear of having my writing rejected into its proper place.