Read Part One of this post here.
Use an Editorial Calendar
Knowing what you are going to write and when you are going to write makes it easy to get started. Every Sunday, I sit down with Evernote and I write out a weekly editorial calendar.
I start with a working title for the blog post. Sometimes this is easier than others. Sometimes I have to write the complete idea before I can title the post, other times my original idea is just the title of the post. On the editorial calendar, I just use something as a title.
I usually add three points or three of four questions that I want the post to answer to my editorial calendar. I add these points or questions to the editorial calendar in parentheses. It is amazing how well your mind works when you give it a question to answer; sometimes a post almost writes itself.
When I sit down to write, I look at the editorial calendar, type the title of the post and the three questions or bullet points down the page, and I write.
But the editorial calendar isn’t the most important factor in being productive as a writer.
Write Before the World Makes Demands of You
I wake up every morning at 5:00 AM.
I have spoken to a bunch of authors, and I have read a lot about writing and the creative process. Almost to a person, authors write very early in the morning. I have asked them why they write so early, some rising as early as 3:00 AM to write, and few of them have been able to tell me anything more than it is just easier. I think I know the answer.
No one wants your time or attention at 5:00 AM. No one.
It is easier to write when you don’t have all of the distractions that will most certainly demand your attention as the day begins. But maybe the most important factor is that when you wake up your brain is clean. Your mind isn’t bogged down and cluttered with the millions of things it is normally cluttered with once the world starts making demands of you.
My coffee pot starts at 5:15 AM, so when my alarm goes off, I can walk straight to the kitchen grab a giant cup of coffee, and head to the office to write. I write from about 5:30 AM to 7:00 AM.
My friend, Charlie Green, recently introduced me to Ommwriter. I used to write in Microsoft Word, but Ommwriter darkens your screen, eliminating everything but a space to write. It also plays some sort of meditative music through my headphones. It eliminates anything that would distract you from simply writing, and that makes it the killer app for getting down to business.
I watch just one hour of television a week, so I have time to edit during the evenings.
I didn’t use to separate the writing and editing process. Because I didn’t, I feel like my writing suffered. I like to write, then put the writing down and come back to it later to edit it. Something that looked and sounded right to me in the morning sometimes doesn’t make any sense at all later in the day.
Writing and editing are two very different processes. Writing is creative and I have the best luck when I don’t interrupt that process; when I am writing, I write.
Editing is a judgmental process, not a creative process. When I edit later, I don’t have to be in the same creative space, and I can just read the post aloud to determine what I need to rewrite or edit. My sentences are still too long and complex, and I am still too wordy. But I think my work is better when I edit after I have given the post time to sit. I still use Microsoft Word to edit my posts.
How much easier is it to write if you have an outline or a sketch?
Do you write and edit at the same time, or do you separate the processes? Do find that editing interrupts the creative process?
What is the best time to concentrate and focus on your creative work?