Are You An Intermittent Writer?

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Hello lovelies and welcome back to the blog.

Do you write in multiple sessions in a given day, squeezing in writing time in the in-between moments? Do you dictate on your morning run, feverishly use your phone to access your project when waiting in any line or for any reason, bring your laptop with you when visiting the in-laws, just in case they go to bed early and you can stay up to write? You might be an intermittent writer.

Let’s go into some pros and cons and then I’ll give you some tips at the end to write intermittently successfully.

CONS:

  1. I’ll get to it later.

There’s flexibility in your writing time and then there’s the “I’ll get to it later” idea, and trust me, it’s a trap. Knowing that you’ll have multiple writing sessions in your day or week may lead you to believe that you can get to doing something later, put it off, and never actually get around to writing it. Remember that you still have to produce tangible work sometime during your week, so while you may be able to put something off temporarily, you shouldn’t put it off for too long.

  1. Time that you think is downtime, might not be downtime to others around you.

If you miss your kiddo’s home run because you were working, you’re going to feel awful about it, and so is your kid. Just because you can write at any time, doesn’t mean that you should. This goes for other times too. Be wary of writing when you should be giving your full attention to something else. If you think you will just get in a few words while that chicken fries or that chili simmers, you could burn it and ruin your family’s meal, kitchen, or home, so why risk it?

  1. The constant flux of starting and stopping makes it almost impossible to reach a state of flow. 

You’ve heard about flow state, right? That mythical state where everything in the universe colludes to make the perfect conditions for writing? Flow state typically only happens to people who have the time to be caught up in long writing sessions where they don’t notice the time going by. Unfortunately, if you are only writing in small, intermittent chunks throughout the day, you will not have the time sink required to obtain it.

PROS:

  1. You don’t necessarily have to carve out specific time to write. 

Unlike other types of writers, being an intermittent writer means you don’t actually have to carve out several hours during your week to get your writing done. While you do still need to have goals and strive to make them, your type of writing style is definitely more flexible and can allow for more freedom during your day and week.

  1. You don’t have to get your whole day’s writing done all at once.

If you’re writing intermittently, you can rely on the fact that you will have multiple writing sessions in any given week in which to work on your goals. With multiple writing sessions, you don’t have the pressure to get your entire day’s work done at once. You can work on it in smaller, more manageable chunks.

  1. If you’re not feeling it, it isn’t the end of the world.

If you attempt to write something and for whatever reason you’re not feeling it that session, it isn’t the end of the world. Unlike other types of writers, you can make multiple attempts throughout your day and throughout your week to get your word and page counts in. 

 Tips to Successful Intermittent Writing

  1. Specify a Daily, Weekly, or Monthly Goal, and Frontload the Work. 

While your writing style has the ability to be the most flexible of all the writers out there, you want to be sure that you are making tangible progress and not falling into the “I’ll get to it later” trap. The best way to avoid this is to set hard goals and to front load your work. That is, get as much work done as early in the day or week as you can, in other words, do the work up front, so that if you end up getting busy or if life gets in the way later in the week (like something fun coming up this weekend) you already have the bulk of your writing done and you don’t have to stress about it.

  1. Don’t Think Only in Blocks of Time. 

There’s a lot of popularity in time blocking right now. If you’re an intermittent writer, however, you’re going to have the most success with looking for tiny moments instead. Throw out the idea of having giant chunks of time in which to write. Instead, think in terms of tiny moments of ten minutes or less. When can you squeeze in ten minutes into your day? Here are a few suggestions. 

  • Whenever you brew your coffee or tea, pull out your WiP and get some words in.
  • Whenever you are waiting (grocery store, DMV, dentist, for a friend to meet you for coffee), pull your phone out and start typing.
  • Whenever you find yourself mindlessly scrolling a social media site.
  • On your lunch break. If your desk or office break room is too distracting, consider just sitting in your car with a packed lunch or at a nearby cafe or coffee shop for your lunch break and writing.
  1. Think About Your Project Throughout the Day.

Keep your project at the top of mind. If you are working out the next scene or what you’re going to write about next, when you sit down to write it, that scene will come much easier because you’ve already got it pre-planned. Even when you’re pantsing it, you do a little bit of this, thinking your scene out only just before you get it written down. This isn’t an outline-or-die tip, this is a pants-while-you-do-real-life-things and then write it down as soon as you can. If you’re an outliner, that’s fine, you still need to imagine your scene. You still need to get into the details so that you can write it. Even a hardcore outliner won’t have all the worldbuilding details, the turns of phrase, the character moments worked all the way out the first time they write something. You can use the think about it throughout your day tip as an opportunity to be able to get more in-depth and to write a cleaner draft overall.

Click this link to hear this blog post as a podcast with your favorite podcasting app!

Do you have a set drafting style, and how would you say it affects your writing and productivity?  Have you ever wanted to try drafting your work differently and how well did it go? Do you set daily or weekly writing goals, and consistently meet them? Let us all know in the comments below!

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