I have written a bit before about some of the things I sometimes do in order to be more productive (finding the right environment; thinking on paper; alcohol…). Having finished school this December and without a regular job (freelancing FT(financially unstable)W) I find myself increasingly required to be As Productive As Possible, and I am discovering that this happens in different ways.
You hear a lot from People Who Know that to be a successful writer you have to force yourself to write and not stop until whatever quota you’ve set for yourself is met. I posit that this is not always the case.
I absolutely think that sometimes (often?), forcing yourself to do nothing but sit and write until you’re done is what it takes to get things done. And so that’s what you have to do.
But every once in awhile I can tell that this tactic will not work at the moment. When I have sat for an hour and not written anything and perhaps not even been thinking about the project I’m supposed to be writing because my mind is busy thinking about another project that maybe I would prefer to write at that moment but feel like I shouldn’t be writing because I need to be writing this one. Which I’m not.
And sometimes I force myself to do it anyway and sometimes that works and sometimes it turns out crap.
And sometimes, instead, I recognize that I’m just going to waste time if I try, and maybe I do need to work on a different project. Give myself a break from this one, go where my mind is eager to take me, use the ideas my mind is eager to give me. Better getting the wrong thing done than nothing at all.
You have to do whatever it takes to do what you need to do.
Another example: I often find that dressing well (nice shirt, sweater; pants) helps me feel Professional and boosts my work ethic. But sometimes it makes me feel restricted, and even the simple task of changing (t-shirt; no pants) helps me get into the right headspace to get work done.
Sometimes I’ve been staring at a screen too long and I need to clear my head and go for a run. Then I get home and blow through a bunch of things on my to-do list.
(I’ve also learned recently that staring at a screen is easier with glasses. (As opposed to contacts, I mean. Shush, you.))
Sometimes you need more caffeine. Sometimes hydration. Sometimes alcohol. Sometimes, you just need a good nap or mental break. And yes, sometimes you just need to force yourself to sit there until you Get Shit Done.
The trick, I think, is learning to identify what it is you need to do to be successful at any given moment. And then do it.
Take off those pants.