Don’t Add Writing to Your To-Do List

Filling out job applications is the worst. The worst. It’s not enough that you have to write down every single place you’ve worked, but the addresses, supervisors, phone numbers…you get the idea. Half of those people I don’t even talk to anymore, so no, I don’t want you calling them. It was a temp job at a bookstore. I guarantee you they’ll say, “Taylor who?”

But as I’m sitting here going through the motions, half on autopilot until I have to figure out the minimum wage from 2011, I realized that we can often fall into the trap of treating writing like another thing on our to-do list. It becomes monotonous.

Sit down.
Punch out your word requirement.
Use the bathroom.
Type a couple more words if you’re feeling productive.
Rework your plot.
Quit for the night.

I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I fell in love with.

I fell in love with the expression of words. How we can make our thoughts so profoundly unique on a page simply through syntax. It’s a beautiful act of creation on our part, and we so often take this gift for granted.


I recently read an idea which I like much more than the whole word quota method, and that’s to write for 45 minutes straight, take a 15 minute break of something mindless, then write for another 45 minutes, and so on. (Note: I really wish I remembered where I read this idea. I think it was a Writer’s Digest article, but I’m just not sure.)

This is similar to the free-writing exercise I suggested last week (see here: except that your writing now is geared toward completing your WIP rather than a steady stream of conscious that may or may not be included.

I like this method because it keeps writing from becoming a task to check off. It takes the pressure off forcing out x number of words and allows you to focus on quality instead of quantity. The tricky part is just getting that solid 45 minutes alone to write without distraction. Which I believe we can all do, we just need to recognize that writing is an important and essential part of our day. It cannot take the back burner, so don’t give it that option.

[Follow me on Twitter @tclem91 because it’s on your to-do list. Cross that baby off!]


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