How are your writing plans going this year? Are you on track? Here, it’s the summer break and today the children are fighting again. This familiar pattern follows the end of most school terms. I start off with big plans for the break though we all feel tired and want to rest. My kids recover quickly with later mornings and enjoy later bedtimes, but as a parent, I still have work.
What does this have to do with writing? Well, if you’re a parent, do you, too, start these school breaks with optimism and intention? I have grand ideas about taking the kids to the beach each afternoon and working shorter days. I am certain plenty of playdates will keep the kids busy while I’m occupied.
When plans get washed out
Except, a couple of days in, it always rains for three in a row, and we rattle around inside, irking or avoiding each other. The beach ends up coated in stinky seaweed and the storm drains discharge volumes of effluent. The same onshore northerly that returns the warmth and blue skies, brings bluebottles too which keep us out of the water even longer. By now, our—okay, my—torpor persuades me it is too hot to take them after nine am or before four pm, which fits in nicely with work too by the way. Next thing I know, all the kids’ friends have gone away camping with their families or are enrolled in vacation care programs.
Before long, my good intentions of planned summer activities fall by the wayside. Too many unpredictable factors suck the momentum out of our plans, and they become sporadic. We decide to go with the flow. The flow is a trickle and eventually a dusty creek bed.
Go with the flow works, right?
This ad hoc approach can also be applied to writing plans. You can choose to approach your writing in a free form way. Even if it is work-related, like a blog or your newsletter, you can wait until inspiration captures your fingers and you scratch down the idea on any paper you find, or napkin, or leaf even—you’re right of course, none of us have ever been so stirred that we needed to use a leaf.
We don’t even have to write our ideas down anymore. Who doesn’t have an app on their phone to speak their ideas into? Half of them come with speech-to-text functions.
When you write when you want to, you will want to write when you do. Writing won’t become a chore. To demonstrate, try this. Imagine your favourite thing. Swimming? Roller blading? Reading? Now open your calendar and add 30 minutes of this favourite activity to your calendar for the next five days. Add an alert to remind you 15 minutes beforehand. Excited? If you are, go for it. Except, whenever I’ve done this (also called scheduling self-care), I discover I’ve made a chore out of my favourite thing. And this burden weighs me down and all the joy is sucked out of it.
The pros and cons of the ad-hoc approach to writing
Instead, don’t spend time writing if you don’t like to. Only do it when you want to. Presto! I look forward to when your novel gets published.
Of course, I’m kind of joshing with you here. I don’t really recommend an ad-hoc approach to writing, especially if you’re doing it in any sort of professional capacity, for your own business or for anyone else.
We have flat, somewhat unsatisfactory, summer breaks with our kids unless we get really clear on what we want to achieve with those days stretching ahead. An ad-hoc approach leaves most days the same, no momentum, and the inevitable inertia leaves that niggling feeling that we could have made much more of the time we had.
You don’t have to be a novelist or journalist to need to write. You might be writing your website, or marketing material, or a lead magnet. I can assure you the likelihood of inspiration striking for any of these is looooow. But the necessity is still there.
Often and daily
I do recommend writing regularly to keep your words well oiled. It sharpens your voice, keeps you smooth, and helps you improve. Yes, I am sure some of you out there are exceptions. But I bet you’re so exceptional that you actually write all the time. I’ll bet there is no ad-hoc for you.
So, write often, daily if you can.
And if you want the writing, but don’t want to write?
If you prefer to leave the writing to the writers so you can get on with your on passion, drop me a line at email@example.com and you’ll hear back promptly.
I’m Rananda, a Sydney-based writer and editor.
With 25-plus years in corporate life, a financial background, a science education, and a lifetime of writing, I know there is more to starting and growing a loyal following than just the words on your website or saving that draft manuscript in a folder.
I bring comprehensive practical experience to supporting your writing needs.