Getting the Writing Done: Crunch Times

I have several deadlines to meet by the end of this month, including finishing an outlined NaNoWriMo novel. Crunch time!

I reviewed my past “crunch time” behaviors, many of which set me back instead of moving me forward. (e.g. I often gave up eating healthy meals and grabbed caffeine-laden soft drinks and chocolate to get me by.)

But since the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over (while expecting different results), I decided to make a list of behaviors I wanted to implement from now till the end of November. These are the habits I’ve found to work during previous crunch times:

**Never sit and stare at a blank screen. When you hit a mental block, get up and move. Do a household chore you hate until you think of something to write next. There is nothing in this world that jogs my writing block loose like scrubbing a toilet. It is one of the writer’s best kept secrets.

**Close down email during the day. Check for emergency email first thing in the morning, answer any from editors, and leave the rest till the end of the writing day. Same goes for turning on the answering machine and returning calls late in the day.

**Keep up with health routines. Although my brain says, “Skip your run and get to work” or “grab that candy bar and keep working,” it never helps in the long run. I am much more productive during crunch times if I continue with my 6 a.m. run, eat my oatmeal (ugh), drink my eight glasses of water, and take breaks for healthy meals.

**Remember to stretch your neck and back. I set a timer for ten minutes throughout my work hours. Every ten minutes, I stop and do neck rolls, side bends, and back stretches. It only takes a minute, but it both lengthens the amount of time I can stay at the computer and lets me finish a work day without headaches and backaches. Every single time that I skip the exercises to save writing time, I pay later by having to quit early and having headaches interrupt my sleep.

**Give yourself a reward. Create little rewards throughout the writing day (like ten minutes of reading your favorite mystery for every hour you write) and rewards at the end of the day (a favorite DVD or dinner with a friend). I used to think rewards were silly and childish–and maybe they are–but they work!

What habits work for you during crunch times? Leave a comment with your best tip!

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4 Responses to Getting the Writing Done: Crunch Times

  1. Latanya West says:

    Kristi, thanks for the great tips. That last one really hit home. You mean I can read a snippet of my fav book for every hour I get the writing done – while I’m getting it done?! Who knew? Now that’s a habit I’m starting today! Thanks for opening up my mind to the little things that can keep me moving towards my goals.
    - Latanya

    • kwpadmin says:

      Latanya, I bribe myself in all kinds of big and little ways to keep moving ahead. And I had to come up with small treats and rewards that didn’t include sugar or chocolate all the time! When I had a recent big project to finish that required about four hours of actual writing per day, my eyes were too tired to read for pleasure as a treat, so I got out my Colin Firth “Pride and Prejudice” movie and for every half hour I wrote, I got to watch ten minutes of the movie. It was a real treat, and it rested my eyes to look across the room. But I have to set a timer, or my break seems to magically extend itself! :-)

  2. Latanya West says:

    I was so excited about your tips I forgot to share mine! I’ve been using the Pomodoro technique – set your timer for 25 minute increments and take a break for 5 minutes. Once you reach 4 “pomodoros” take a 15 minute break. It’s tempting to abandon it when I have a deadline but I find I feel so much less stressed and stiff if I don’t. Sometimes I go to http://www.fitnessblender.com for a quick workout during my breaks. Keeps me alert!

    • kwpadmin says:

      I have that Pomodoro ebook about that…but never tried it really. It’s good to hear from someone who has tried it. And I’ve never heard of Fitness Blender…I’m going to check that out. Would be handier than what I do now (popping a DVD into the player, waiting for it, finding the segment, etc.) Thanks for both tips!

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