Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tips for writers: How to set a routine (manage your writing space to manage your writing behaviour)

Writing a dissertation for the Phd is not very different from writing a book. Personally, I enjoy writing books more than writing my dissertation but I have found that when it comes to writing the procedure is more or less the same. So I'll be posting some ideas that I have found really useful to those who have difficulty in organising their work and setting a routine (if you're like that then we have a lot in common). All these ideas come from my readings and have all been tested.
So, let's say that the moment has come when  inspiration overwhelms you and you feel the intense need to write. Where do you do this? I mean, what is the "environmental support" that works for you? It'd better not be the kitchen table! You don't need salt and pepper around you or the kids coming and going, the fridge opening every now and then and, worst of all, the distracting temptation of sweets and biscuits (I admit I have done the same, don't worry).It's a good idea to choose your writing space carefully. And by space we mean a quiet place where you will be able to enjoy uninterrupted privacy for as long as you need it. A special room in your house, one that nobody else uses, can be turned into your writing space. I wouldn't go as far as rent an office ( if you can afford it, why not?) but you need a place to use exclusively for writing that masterpiece.  If there is no spare room in your house, use a desk (worked for me).Your laptop, your notes and everything you need must be there for you and you only.
 And that must be the only reason you sit there: to write. This is how you can focus; under "narrowly defined stimulus conditions". Experts have stressed how stimulus control is closely related to self control. The idea is to write under stimulus control of a particular location and , if possible, on a particular time of day. You may find it useful to set a period of time during the day that you confine yourself in that "writing space", let's say from 5p.m. to 7p.m.
 But try to be consistent. Consistency is the key word here. You will soon find how this will narrow all outside distractions and you will become focused on your project.
One thing you should not underestimate is the support of family nd friends. Avoid unannounced visitors by letting your friends know your writing routine. State simply that you can't be reached during the period of time you dedicate to writing. Those who really care will understand  your need for privacy. Of course you will have to arrange the occasion when you can be with them exclusively.
Friends Comments

Special arrangements must be done with children. If they know that you have committed specific time to them (and of course you keep your commitments) they are less likely to interrupt your work.
Parents Sons
Parents Sons Comments

A warning: Be realistic. Set realistic goals and be prepared for the unexpected. Sometimes plans fail and routines change. But that's all right. Besides, you should know that writing is a lonely job.


  1. Thanks for the writing tips. Eliminated distractions can be very important, but sometimes I find it nice to be able to escape to a public place to write. I think it increases inspiration

  2. Thanks for stopping by Patrick. You're right, busy places are valuable resources of inspiration. And , let's face it, too much isolation may be unhealthy for the mind.I guess my tips address to disorganised writers (like me!) who tend to procrastinate...


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