Wednesday, August 29, 2012

5 Strategies To Keep Your Writing Productive

As I write this article I'm camped out in my den trying not to focus on the sights and sounds of "Super Storm Sandy" wrapping her wrath around all sides of my house. I had spent part of two days securing items in my yard that could become flying missiles, protecting my plants, and wading alongside other last minute shoppers collecting batteries, ice, and edible rations that would stay fresh in a cooler.
Distractions are a part of everyone's lives. Some you can choose to ignore. Others, like a schizophrenic Mother Nature on the warpath from all directions, demand your attention no matter what else is going on. The best defense you have depends on how prepared you are. As the Red Cross phrased it, "The more prepared you are you'll be ready before the storm and the quicker you'll recover after it's all over." My take from a business perspective is, if you plan before hand you'll be able to continue being productive throughout the storm and you'll be much farther ahead of schedule when your world calms down, than if you allow that time to slip by without working.
These suggestions will help you maintain a productive perspective, before, during, and after the squalls settle. Obviously, this advice may not be appropriate or possible if you're in a shelter or while in the treacherous throes of being pelted with blustery winds and relentless rain. But if you're hunkered down in your house, at a friend or families home, give them a try.
It seems like over the last year and a half I've experienced far more brushes with weather disturbances than in the several years before. It drives me crazy to sit in the dark and do nothing. These tactics keep you from watching the clock and will change your posture from one of discomfort to one of determination.
I know how inconvenient it is to be without electricity for days. I'm even familiar with the fear and dread of abandoning all that you own to evacuate, afraid of what you'll return to. But being a notch on the path of destruction from one of the country's worst natural disasters, yet ending up one of the fortunate ones, evokes an emotional combination of grief, guilt, and gratitude in me.
Grief, for all the heart wrenching loss and pain I see on the news.
Guilt, for being battered by the same tumultuous system that's been wreaking just about every kind of weather havoc possible across nearly a third of the country, throughout which, my lights never even flickered. In the beginning the meteorologists weren't sure if Hurricane Sandy was going into Virginia Beach, New Jersey, or New York. So it could have been us.
Gratitude, because with so much devastation being caused by tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods that literally have knocked on my doorstep but exited with debris left behind but no destruction. Why are some spared misery while others are inundated with it? I come away feeling that I have more to be thankful for than I can find words to express.
I now plan if I hear a storm is approaching so I can shift into alternative modes of productivity. I hope that the following 5 ideas help you get organized so you can sustain your productivity as a writer during the stormy distractions that you cannot control:
1. Be grateful and don't waste a minute. If you have a house, if you're warm tonight, if you can cook a meal, chat on your cell phone knowing you simply have to plug it in to charge it. If you're able to take a shower, if you're watching television while reading this article on your laptop, say thank you right now. If you complained about traffic today, got frustrated with delays, complications in your schedule, or computer problems, let it roll off and be grateful, as there are so many who cannot do the simplest of everyday tasks.
2. Don't dwell on it but accept that disasters of all proportions will happen. The best defense you have is in how much you prepare. Artisticpreneurs always have business chores to tackle that do not require a computer. If your electricity is zapped, light some candles, pull out pen and paper, brainstorm and let the ink flow. Touch up your list of goals, writing projects, and your weekly and monthly schedule. When things are crazy with deadlines, appointments, and phone calls, it's hard to fit in time for these items.
3. Something else that's hard to handle on a daily basis is reading. Catch up on that tantalizing fiction novel, that folder of 'to read' business material, or choose a personal development article or book to strengthen your mindset during this challenge. People read by oil lamps and flickering light for many years. You can do it temporarily.
4. Dark, depressing, and dangerous situations can lead to fantastic creative output of expression. Your imagination may run wild with emotion as words and images pour from your right brain that must be eventually shared to empower, educate, and entertain. Let them escape from your mind onto paper or a blank canvas. You may end up with something amazing, and the act will help keep your mind off of what's happening outside.
5. Insert batteries into a radio or CD player. Turn on a flashlight or just candles if that's enough light. Straighten a room, a desk, do paperwork, filing, or clean the bathroom. We all have some tidying up that can be done. When you cannot get outside and have no access to computer toys what better time to whip out the dust cloths, mops, file folders, and labels. Action keeps your mind concentrating on the positive motion of progress.
Like many others across the country, I cannot begin to fathom what those that were pummeled and leveled by Sandy are facing in the months or possibly years to come. We're a power driven society... touching, browsing, clicking, flashing, viewing and connecting. That technology makes it possible for people all over the globe to be affected by the devastating stories out of the northeast.
We're inspired by those residents who triumph over tragedy and the enduring speeches we hear from state leaders that are hundreds of miles away. I just hope that those passionate words of resilience, dedication, faith, and encouragement can find a pathway to the residents of those debilitated communities who need so badly to hear and believe them.
Jennifer Darden, owner of The Queens Empire, is an artist, author, and food, flavor, and alcohol pairing connoisseur.
Want to expand on these 5 strategies with 78 powerful exercises? My book is not just for idle reading. It is an action tool. I developed it for all those story scribes out there who have been distracted by life, circumstance, people, relationships, work, tragedy, mistakes, and unresourceful choices. It's never too late to get back on track and adopt a "Do It Now" existence.