Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Time Management Tuesday: Writing Every Day Vs. Binge Writing

Jan Allen, Graduate Mentor has a very interesting article in which she writes about the benefits of writing every day over Binge Writing.

Her concern is people who put off writing for long periods of time thinking they'll make it up in a, say, ten-hour writing binge. She asks, "...realistically, what any one cognitive activity can you do well for 10 hours straight?" Since I've written here about will power being depleted over the course of the day and the substantial support for working in short units of time, I'd have to say not many.

Allen says that another problem with binge writing "is the amount of time required to return to the focused thinking and productive writing when there is so much time between writing efforts." That's what I call getting your head back into the game, and it's why Mondays are difficult for me. Just the two-day weekend break means a big effort to get back up to speed with the project I was working on on Friday. How much of your ten-hour binge is going to be used for actual writing, if you've been away from your project for days or weeks? You're going to need a lot of that time to go over what you've already done, go over whatever notes you've made, maybe do some research, maybe outline the next chapter or do some character development. Yes, most writers would describe that as writing because it's part of the process. But if you have boxed yourself into a situation in which you have to binge, you're not going to be able to use all that binge to actually get words down on a page. First you're going to need to get through some process to get yourself to the point of writing. 

Allen talks about fear related to writing, which I don't think I've seen much about. This may be a bigger issue for the graduate students she is writing for, people who may not have much experience writing and who have a lot riding on a thesis. But I think it could relate to anyone. Planning a writing binge puts a lot of anxiety on writers. Even if you don't have a contract, even if you don't have an external deadline, planning to do a significant amount of work in one block of time is putting a huge amount of pressure on yourself to produce something with it. And since you haven't written in some time, you do have reason to fear you can't do it. Whereas if you write every day, you know you can write for a few hours. Or ninety minutes. Or forty-five minutes.

If you write every day, you know you can do the work. You have some accumulated writing. You are mentally in the project you're working on.

The benefits or writing every day are piling up.

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