A Simple Tool Every Writer Needs To Know About

By Jennifer Blanchard

A couple weeks ago, writer and The Faster Times columnist, Nancy Rawlinson, was kind enough to share with me (via Twitter) a link to a recent column she wrote on writing procrastination.

The tip Rawlinson shared in this column is simple, yet brilliant: Use a start-up list to keep yourself on-track when you’re getting ready to start a writing session.

“ This is a simple tool that gets you into your writing through a series of steps,” Rawlinson says. “My start-up list is typed and saved on my computer. I print out twenty or more copies at a time. When I sit down to write, I take out my list and go through the items one by one. It takes about ten minutes, tops. As I ‘accomplish’ each task, I cross it off the list, which is satisfying. When I’m done, I have cleared away all my distractions and I’m ‘in’ to my writing. Sounds too simple to be true? It is, in a way. It’s just a list. But it works.”

A start-up list is very similar to having a writing ritual. It’s a tool that will put you in the mindset to start writing.

As Rawlinson mentioned in the column, each writer’s start-up list will be slightly different, depending on what you typically do before you start a writing session.

The reason this tip is so brilliant is because it allows you to do all those tasks you usually berate yourself for doing (checking e-mail, posting an update to Facebook) before you start your writing session. It allows you to get all those distracting tasks out of the way immediately so you can really focus on your writing.

I think that’s pretty great.

Here’s the sample start-up list Rawlinson gave in her column. Feel free to use it and customize it for yourself:

The start-up list for procrastinating writers

1. Make cup of tea/coffee

2. Clear desk

3. Check email

4. Block internet for ___ hours/minutes

5. Decide what you want to accomplish in your writing that day and write it down

6. Open the last writing document you were working on

7. Reread that document

8. Start work

The best writing productivity tools are the ones that fit you and the way you like to work.

So if you would rather keep the start-up list on your computer or use a virtual Post-It notes program (not an affiliate link, I just love these!) to keep your list instead of printing them out, do it. If printing them out helps you, do that. And if you’d rather just make a list once and keep it on your desk so you can refer back to it, do that.

Do whatever works for you and whatever will get you into your writing session.

To get more details of how Rawlinson works through her start-up list, be sure to read the column.

What tasks do you have to complete before you can enter into your writing session?

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is founder of Procrastinating Writers. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.

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