Today’s writing demon: Time management.

Namely, how do you get yourself into an effective writing zone if you have limited time? Is it possible, or do you have to wait until you have hours stretching before you? Have you ever been able to be productive if you only have half an hour to write? 15 minutes? How much time do you need in order to really get settled and make headway?

Also, can you write at any time of day, or does your brain work better in the morning? Late at night?

I’m not telling Mars anything she doesn’t already know here, but oh my god, the word wars on are training me.  

It’s the great complaint of writers, right?  Your mind wanders.  You sit down to write and the next thing you know, Tumblr has eaten two hours of your life and it’s time to make dinner, and you have nary a line of text to show for it.

You know what that really is?  That’s whining.  No, I do it too, but if you listen really, really closely, you can hear your brain going, “But I don’t waaaaaanna!  It’s haaaaaard.  I don’t know what words to put down, I feel stupid, wah wah wah.”

Here is the horrible, unvarnished truth about writing:  to make it happen, you just.  Do.  It.  

It’s a horrible truth about a lot of things, actually.  You can try all the techniques to psych yourself into something (or out of it), or ease yourself through step by step.  But in the end, Yoda was right.  You either do it, or you don’t.  You don’t try to get up and walk.  You don’t try to do the dishes.  You don’t try to brush your teeth.  And you don’t try to write (though trying to write well is a different story).

It’s simultaneously the easiest and the hardest damn thing in the world.  The good news is, though, that the more you do it, the easier it gets.  It’s a habit you can form.

So word wars.  For those of you not familiar with them (and thanks go to thisprettywren, who’s the one who introduced me to the idea), word wars are timed writing sprints.  You and 100 of your closest writer friends sit down, start the timer, and then just write for a solid…10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever.  At the end, you count how many words you produced and everybody has fun comparing their numbers.

It’s the most amazing focusing tool.  And I’m finding that it’s carrying over into my non-word warring writing life, because it’s teaching me how to just fucking do it.  How to not care about the quality of what I’m producing.  How to let it go if scenes aren’t gelling, if I’m having to ramble to find the point, even if sometimes I have to start typing “What the fuck am I trying to get at here?  Well, here’s what Character A is thinking, and Character B is doing this….”  How to—yes—ignore the fact that it’s 100% total bullshit and makes no sense whatsoever.  You just don’t think about it.  You just step right past the “Waaaaah, but I don’t want to think about this because it’s haaaaard and I feel dumb” whining that leads to me deciding to check Tumblr ‘just for a second,’ give yourself permission to be incoherent and stupid, blow off everything except the goal of getting words on the page, and write.

“I’ll fix it later” are some of the most beautiful words in the English language.

This is not to say I’m super-good at this.  Can I make a 30 minute writing window productive?  Errrrrrr…occasionally?  (Actually I live in dread that I CAN, and that I will get on a roll and then have to stop and go do something else.)  But by god, progress is being made!

So if this is a problem you have, then get in on the action next time fic_rush or opens, or hit us up over on and see if anybody’s game for a round (usually at least somebody will be; there are generally at least a couple of people working on stories at any given time).

Speaking of which, Mars, I owe you a word war today. ^_^  Shall we see who else wants to play?

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