I’ve mentioned more than a few times here and there how damaging it is to your impetus if you let yourself click away from your manuscript, for any reason at all.
I just haven’t formalized the idea as a strategy for getting more words down until now.
Interruptions are the bane of modern offices. There’s a ton of research on the true, hidden cost of interruptions (here and here, to start). Most of the research indicates that any single interruption to your concentration and flow can cost you 20 minutes of time, before you get back to where you were.
There are other research reports claiming that interruptions can cost you six hours a day.
Clicking away from your manuscript is an interruption.
How many more words a day could you write, if you were handed six extra hours?
There are some interruptions you simply cannot avoid, so even if you eliminated most of them, how much more productive would you be with even an extra three hours a day?
If you only have a spare hour to write, every evening, and a single click away from your manuscript costs 20 minutes of your time, you’re already reduced to a measly 40 minutes of productive time. That’s the price you pay for moving away from the manuscript even once.
It pays To Eliminate Reasons to Click Away.
The aim is to maintain flow as long as you can.
I’ve spoken before about using your manuscript file as your notebook and leaving breadcrumb reminders to find later, here and in video here. These are tactics I use to keep myself writing and you may find them useful, but the best tactics are those you devise for yourself.
It starts simply enough. Next time you reach for the mouse or the alt+tab keys to click away from the manuscript:
- Ask yourself if you really need to shift away right now. Can you put markers in the script, guess and correct later, or leave a note in the script to remind yourself to do whatever it was you just thought of, later?
- If you do click away, catch yourself as quickly as you can and go back to your writing. Add a note to the manuscript reminding yourself that you clicked away.
- After your writing is done for the day, analyse why you clicked away. Was it necessary? And if it was, is there some way you can eliminate the need in the future? Can you have a list of character names on your second screen? Can you devise a way of marking up your manuscript so you can fix whatever it is in edits?
The More You Stay with the Manuscript, The More Words You Write
It’s simple math.