Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Writing for Hours Uninterrupted? Not a Good Idea.

Conventional wisdom says to try to write every day. Most of us don't have an entire day before us, like a blank sheet of paper, but when we are able to snatch a block of time to write we use it. And when we do get an entire day, perhaps even an entire week to write, the temptation is to utilize all our time for writing. That's where we blow it.

To start with, sitting for great periods of time is bad for your body and your brain. Here's a great little video that explains why sitting is detrimental to your health:

Plus going nonstop on one thing can cause burn-out of the mind. After awhile you get tired, blocked, you've lost your writing mojo. But ... but, you have a precious block of time for writing! How can you not keep glued in that seat working away?

First off, writing just for the sake of writing doesn't equate to quality writing. The same goes for reaching a word count goal for its own sake. Contrary to popular belief, amassing words can give only a momentary sense of satisfaction. In the long run, you've created a larger pile of editing for yourself.

So how in the world can you maximize your time, try to reach your writing goals, and give yourself less editing to do?

1. Take breaks. Get out of that chair and move around. Get your blood flowing and give your muscles some relief.

2. Drink water. Our bodies are mostly made of water, including our brains. Keep hydrated.

For further reading:
Top 7 Brain Benefits of Drinking Water
Why Your Brain Needs Water

3. In a rut? Blocked? Ready to wring your hands or pull out your hair because the clock is ticking and you can't move forward? Exercise. Research has proven that the brain is stimulated through exercise.

Take a moment to think about this ...

We have two modes of thinking, called the focused (task positive network) and the diffuse (task-negative network) modes. Focused mode is concentrated, on-task thinking. It's what you've been in since you sat down to write. The problem is we can't keep up focused mode indefinitely. We run into a problem or get blocked. Our brain needs a break.

Diffuse mode is the thinking that goes on when we are relaxing, when we aren't focused directly on the task we want to accomplish, but actually our brain is still at work--in another area. The back of our mind is still processing the problem and when we are doing something else like exercise, changing tasks, or even sleeping, that diffuse mode of thinking is busy coming up with the solution to our problem.

4. Daydream and brainstorm while doing other things. Go ahead and change your laundry, run an errand, play a game of solitaire (just don't get snared into playing too much) doodle or draw; it's good for your mind and creative flow.

5. Get rid of distractions when you are ready to concentrate on writing.
a) Turn off your phone, disable the internet or pop-up alerts.
b) Tell your family that you need uninterrupted time and make sure they understand and their needs are met so they don't bother you. Give them a time frame to go by.
c) Make sure you are in a place that is not only comfortable but that will encourage you to work. That may be the library, outside under a tree, in an office (clear the clutter from your desk), anywhere that is your place for writing.
d) Don't even think about checking your calendar for deadlines. Sometimes those are more distracting than anything else. You need to relax in order to think clearly. Say to yourself that you have (insert time period) and what you manage to get done in that time is enough. Shrug off the pressure.

6. Sleep. Whether it's a half-hour power nap or making sure you get to bed on time and get your eight hours in, sleep is what clears the toxins from your brain so that you can think straight. Toxins? Yes. When we are awake we are collecting toxins in our brains. The cells in our brain expand and the flow of liquid necessary to flushing out toxins is reduced. When we sleep the cells shrink and the liquid is able to get rid of the daily build-up. Ever wonder why you never do better on less sleep? Now you know.

Want to learn more about the wonderful human brain? Check out BrainFacts.org.

Basically, when we are stubborn about staying glued to our seats in order to pound out the words, we are being counter-productive. The very things we don't want to take time to do may actually help us write better and more efficiently. We are not machines, we are not automatic prodigies, we are not built to work nonstop.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get up from the computer and go do something else for awhile.

1 comment: