Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Using The Little Rules of Action from Zenhabits

I follow a blog called Zenhabits. I've recommended it before and want to send it your way again. A recent post seemed especially appropriate for writers. It's called The Little Rules of Action.

There are a lot of things I like about this post. It's simple. It's direct. It's true. I'm not going to summarize or analyze The Little Rules of Action here. Leo Babauta does it exceptionally well without my interpretation.

In the last couple of months, I've been trying to change my own habits in similar ways. Here's how I've attempted to decrease my distractions and increase my writing time:

1. Multi-tasking is out and focused serial-tasking is in. I pick a priority task, focus on that task, finish the task. I work on one thing at a time.

2. Every blog post I read does not require a comment. As a result, I read more blog posts now. I still register as a unique visitor on the blog's stats, so the blogger benefits when I stop by. I'm more inclined to comment on a good post with no or few comments than I am at a post that already has ten or more.

3. Too many lists, Yahoo! Groups, and newsletters eat valuable time. I gained almost two hours a day of writing time by stuffing those e-letters and e-mail digests into folders (in case I want to read them later). I suspect one day I'll delete the contents of those folders unread and may even unsubscribe from the lists. I haven't missed them.

4. I try to consolidate my errands and appointments so I don't have to go out in the car every day. I figure that every time I leave the house it costs me at least an hour of writing time.

5. Practiced relaxation has made it easier for me to write (and to sleep). If I concentrate on relaxing and dropping my shoulders, I find my whole body relaxes. When I'm relaxed, everything I do seems easier.

6. When I sit down to write a blog post or work on my novel, I just write. Revision and self-editing comes later.

Have you been distracted lately? Overwhelmed by the number of tasks on your To-Do List? Can't seem to stop editing as you write? Read The Little Rules of Action and see if there's a way you can apply some of these simple steps to your own writing life.


Mason Canyon said...

Thanks for recommending The Little Rules of Action, I'll check that out. I like what you've done and think we all could benefit from that. I always have To-Do Lists and never seem to get very much of it done.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Distracted? Me? You've sold me...I'll check it out. Thanks, Patricia.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Karen Walker said...

I've put it on my favorites list. Thanks, patricia. These are great suggestions. I've unsubscribed from several groups already.

Carol Kilgore said...

Great post. Thanks so much for the link. I'm bad about trying to cram too much into a day.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Write first, edit later is a great rule of thumb.

Nice blog!

Kay Theodoratus said...

#6 deserves some discussion for a cup of coffee.

Anonymous said...

Great post and points. I recently made a spreadsheet for all my to-dos during the week. By scheduling it out (laundry, writing, other HH duties) I found I worried less about when things would get done and got more done, incl. writing.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks for visiting today, blog buddies, and welcome to Angie from Gumbo Writer.

Kay, I read your blog post at My Mutterings so I know where you're coming from. I tinkered with the first 30,000 words of my current WIP for months, and finally realized that I had simply found one more way to procrastinate. I'm tweaking a few facts here and there to sync earlier chapters with new writing, but I'm no longer revising and editing chapters as I go. I now feel as though I'll actually finish this novel this year.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I like your thinking, our time is all we have and we need to spend it wisely. Thanks for the links.

I almost always leave a comment when I visit a blog post, except for those with over thirty responses, unless I'm moved so strongly I am compelled to put in my two cents. It doesn't take that long to type in a sentence or two.