I used to spend too much time on writing. Sometimes it took me a whole day to write a post of only 500 words. When I look back on these days of toil, I realize the actual writing had only cost me around an hour. The other hours were devoted to staring at the screen and relentlessly editing the article. My mistake? I had mixed two writing processes:
- the writing process
- the editing process
I think the second process is easy to get started with. It feels like a job that has to be done. A check mark in a box. But the first process, the writing itself, is a different matter. That’s what they’ve invented procrastination for. That’s why there are so many web sites and magazines about productivity. Coming up with the right story and words is incredibly hard.
No, let me rephrase that. Getting in the flow for coming up with the right story and words is incredibly hard.
I used to allow all sorts of things to distract me while writing. My phone and desktop notifications were obvious culprits. But the biggest distraction of all didn’t seem like a distraction. Actually, I thought it was part of my productive behavior.
Because there’s nothing more distracting during the act of writing than editing.
I behaved like a menacing editor
You might recognize my old behavior. I wrote a sentence and hit the period key. But before starting a second sentence I already found my cursor back at the second word and replacing it with a better synonym.
I kept repeating this. I behaved like a menacing editor criticizing every sentence seconds after I had written it down. No wonder it sometimes took me a day to come up with a short blog post.
By separating the writing and editing process, I’ve become an effective writer. No more staring at blank screens. No more cursing at my text. I get in a flow and the words just come streaming out.
Here’s how I work these days.(meer…)