Meeting With Yourself Can Help Your Writing

A few Sundays ago I wrote about the importance of play to your writing.

This Sunday I’m suggesting you add 10-20 minutes of structured time to your schedule each week. Why? It can save you time by freeing more minutes and hours to write, do whatever else you need to do, and relax.

Cool sculpture in Chicago’s main Chase Bank branch where I sometimes meet with myself. It has a lovely sitting area.

The 10-20 minutes is for meeting with yourself to plan your week and intentionally choose what tasks to do to reach your goals.

I wish I had done this in my solo law practice. Having come from a large firm environment that was very structured, I used to joke when I was my own boss about meetings.

I’d say I met with my management committee, meaning me, and approved the number of hours I’d worked or the amount of business I’d brought in or my budget expenditures.

The joke was on me.

Had I had a few meetings with myself, I might have realized I was recreating in my solo law practice what I’d left Big Law to avoid.

I was working long hours, including every weekend, and always felt I had too little time to write or do anything outside of work.

So how does this apply to writing?

Having learned from my mistakes, late every Friday afternoon, I now leave my home office and go to a cafe for tea or a restaurant or bar for a glass of wine.

I look at my calendar and To Do lists, schedule my writing hours, and schedule the hours I’ll devote to business.

I also note what tasks I’ll do.

For writing, that means which specific project I’ll focus on. For business, it means choosing whether I’ll be catching up bookkeeping, scheduling promotions, updating my author Facebook page, etc. Depending how busy I am (and on how much I’m enjoying the wine), this takes about 10-20 minutes.

Holding these meetings saves time.

That’s because rather than spending 5 minutes deciding what to work on every time I sit down to write or devote time to my business, I made these decisions once.

It also saves time by keeping me on track with what I want to accomplish. When I’m choosing tasks, I ask myself if the task is necessary and whether it’ll move me toward one of my main goals. If not, I cross if off the list.

When I’m deciding what writing project to start or finish, I ask how it fits with my overall plan. If it doesn’t, I can change course before devoting hours and hours.

Big picture, meeting with yourself ensures you won’t spend time on unnecessary tasks that don’t actually accomplish anything. (Such as checking your sales dashboard on Amazon five times a day, which feels business related, but doesn’t move you toward any goal. Not that I have ever done that.)

It also keeps you from staring at a blank page, uncertain what to write next.

(This used to be my favorite Starbucks to work at, but now it’s all high top tables, which I don’t like. Sigh.)

What about spontaneity?

You can have that even if you meet and plan.

One way is to list an alternate task if you really really are dragging your feet on something.  Rather than fight how you feel, you can switch to something else. (And next time you meet, ask if you really need or want to do that task you avoided.)

Also, especially if you’re working at another career or profession, you can build in flexibility.

Your plan for the week can be your best case scenario. If you have a week that’s reasonable at your other career, you’ll spend all the time you scheduled on your writing.

Favorite outdoor meeting spot at a different Starbucks.

If it’s busier than usual, you’ll spend less time on your writing, but it’ll probably still be more than if you had no plan at all.

What’s really nice is as you get better at scheduling, once you accomplish what you set out to do for the week, you are done. It’s time to relax and watch that movie, go out to dinner, or just do nothing without that nagging voice in your head telling you that you “should” be writing.

Sunday is a great day to assess the coming week, so why not try this out today?

Until Friday–

L.M. Lilly

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