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ANN BRADY

Author, Speaker & Mentor

STUCK IN YOUR WRITING?

It seems crazy that we are already looking toward the beginning of Summer. Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun… or at least when you are so busy you don’t know if you will ever catch up?


These last few months have been quite busy for me but what about you and your writing. Are you feeling the pressure due to the after-effects of the pandemic and the winter season? I’m sure life will have been a challenge but, hopefully, you are starting to make good progress. To do so you may need to adopt systems that simplify the writing process. In other words, what do you do if you are stuck with your writing process?


In case you are having some difficulty I am hoping the following basic tactics will prove highly effective in resolving this situation for you. They’ve worked for my mentees so I’m sure they will help you too.


START BY HAVING A BRAIN DUMP


Having a brain dump is a common strategy for all creators. The idea is that you should jot down all your random ideas before starting any project. By getting these ideas out of your head, you are more easily able to organise them on paper.

However, have you ever tried doing a life brain dump? Actually doing so will supercharge your ability to increase productivity, improve your organisational skills in general, and, much more importantly, enhance your writing skills.

Have you ever calculated how many tasks you actually keep on your mental to-do list? Fat one point, for me, it was too many to count and that was not good. The same may well be the same for you. However, to help resolve this you could do one or more of the following:


 Buy a voice recorder – it doesn’t have to be something expensive or large; just something you can carry in your hand. Actually, most modern phones have a recording facility so why not utilise that.

 Create an exercise plan – And while I am not necessarily talking about physical exercise, remember keeping fit and healthy is good for you. After all, research has shown that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind.

 Finish reading that novel next to your bed – Reading for pleasure is not only fun but affords you some relaxation. So if you have a book sat at the side of your bed then close your laptop down at least 30 minutes earlier than normal. Get a warm drink and go to bed and read that book so you are warm and relaxed thus allowing you to experience a more settled, sleep filled night.

 Use your laptop/computer notepad section or email calendar to keep a record of jobs to do. I think this one goes without saying and isn’t that what the Microsoft or Google Calendars are useful for? Mind you, please don’t forget to do a backup, otherwise you will end up pulling your hair out (metaphorically speaking).

Strangely these are just a few of the non-writing tasks that are usually stored in my head, along with the writing projects I have planned. No doubt, other writers will have even longer lists, so it’s no wonder we are often forgetting the little things!


Carrying out a master brain dump will allow you to prioritise and schedule your life alongside your work commitments. Besides, by writing everything down, it will leave you having more head space for writing.


Once you’ve finished listening to the rest of this podcast why not try doing a brain dump. Seeing your list in black and white will, at first, overwhelm you but, as long as you work at removing items faster than you add them, it will help to streamline your life, thus making your writing much simpler.


CONCENTRATE ON ONE BOOK


Sometimes, we writers, feel it is more productive if we just jump between projects, as it feels as if working on the first one idea will give us time to mull over another. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as scientific studies have proven that many humans just aren’t that good at multi-tasking. Leaving writing something for too long can mean you losing your way. Thus when you return to it, you often find it can take hours or even days to get back into the mojo. By working on one book at a time it will, in contrast, keep you focused and productive.


Those authors who publish many books a year often claim this is their secret success. Instead of project-hopping, they push continuously in one direction. And, by never having to circle back it means they don’t have to remind themselves what they have already written.


Having said that, yes some writers are outliers but, by exercising enough discipline, you can stay on one project, thus making everything easier for you.


MAKE TO-DONE LISTS


Now, while most people are familiar with those to-do lists, what about the ‘to-done’ ones. Such lists are rarely mentioned and yet they are arguably more useful.


When it comes to book writing you can estimate, in advance, roughly what steps are needed to complete a specific project. Put simply that means: you write x number of words; work through the editor's notes; publish on multiple platforms, etc. However, once you start writing what you often find is that each task will also contain some hidden jobs that you hadn’t anticipated.


A ‘to-done’ list helps you to prepare better; mainly because you write down each task as you encounter it. By making a note of each challenge you come across, and tackling it head-on, you can create an accurate checklist of all the steps involved.


This means that the next time you write you are already aware of any pitfalls that may occur. And, it means you can make more accurate plans and set more realistic timescales before starting your writing. This will help you avoid being overwhelmed by unexpected jobs that appear too close to any deadlines. Your ‘to-done’ list will help you work faster but also better.


And that's it: try doing a brain dump, focus on one book at a time and make a ‘to-done’ list as you work. These few basic tips, if used in tandem, could help simplify your writing process, reduce stress and, improve the speed at which you finish your creative projects.


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