1) Don’t neglect your blog for more than a week.
… okay, so I haven’t been managing to stick to this …but … hello, dear reader!
I thought about writing an “I’m still alive, just no time” sort of update and then decided that that would be a rubbish sort of post, so I’d wait until I felt I had at least a little more to say.
I have been writing quite a lot over the past few weeks. Writing CVs, writing cover letters, writing emails, writing reports and logs for work, writing drafts of bits for my thesis … there’s been a lot of writing. Which has probably been part of why I haven’t had much energy for blogging. I would have liked to have been able to blog more, but I’m not beating myself up about it. So, tip number 2:
2) Decide what your priorities are, and stick with them.
That’s more of a top tip for life, I guess, rather than for writing. But I think it counts. Sometimes it’s more important to write that email inquiring about a job than it is to write a post about Sainsbury’s Basics Fairtrade Tea (though I am planning to get there!).And sometimes, probably, the rest of life is more important than writing at all. Although it’s good to keep some kind of writing going if you can, to avoid creating that “oh no, I haven’t written anything coherent in weeks!” feeling. Especially if you have some big writing project like a dissertation or thesis looming.
3) Spend some time every week writing.
There’s a book I’m reading at the moment that suggests writing every day – though it is mostly aimed at students writing up PhD theses which is a step up from what I’m doing (I’m doing a Master’s thesis + other bits and pieces). I’m not quite that optimistic, but I do think it’s good to write something most days. Even if it’s not related to your overall goal(s), any kind of writing is probably helpful. (Even writing in C#? Maybe?)
4) Know yourself. Life goes up and down, writing will too.
Again, life advice rather than writing advice … but it is important. Life has its ups and downs; get to know when you’re most productive and when it feels like nothing’s going anywhere. This is not an excuse for not writing regularly – discipline is terribly useful. But if you realise that you’re in one of life’s down-spots … take it a little easier on yourself. (Remember to eat, sleep, and get some daylight. Rinse and repeat. I was going through a slightly blue patch last week, but am starting to feel better … these things happen*. Don’t beat yourself up about them.)
5) If you have guilt, use it as a motivator.
There’s nothing like writing a couple of thousand words for your essay to help get over the guilt of not-having-started-the-essay-yet! If you can manage this, do it. Really. Stop procrastinating on the internet and go do it.
6) Write something. Anything.
The book on thesis-writing I’m reading talks about free-writing and generative writing, which I aim to try soon … write for 5 minutes on anything at all; if you get stuck write “I don’t know what to write” over and over until you get unstuck. I think that doing NaNoWriMo several times in the past has honed my skills on this one! Writing something can help to break mental blocks, and it might be that among your pages of rambling about dragons you come up with “actually, the key point about my argument is really that X is special because Y” which might be rather useful.
Right. That’s all from me for now – hope to be back here soon :).
*though of course I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to your GP if you suspect something more serious / that needs more treatment than “get a good night’s sleep and eat properly, every day for a week”