Craft,  Creativity,  Discipline

Take 5 Friday: Five Questions To Ask Before Your Next Writing Session

While some writers are able to naturally jump in and focus on their writing projects, most of us take a little more prep time.

I find that if I make some decisions before I sit down to write, my writing time is more enjoyable and I have a clearer sense of my progress.

For today’s Take 5, I thought I would share a few of the things that I decide in advance of my writing sessions.

Background images of a stack of books, a cup of coffee, an antique clock and a typewriter. Foreground image is a yellow circle with the post's title in it.

Note: Sometimes, I make these decisions in the moments before the computer goes on. Ideally, though, I would make these decisions in advance of a planned writing session.

1) What will you work on?

Focus your writing session by choosing your work in advance.

If you have a single work-in-progress, you have one decision to make – Which scene or aspect will you focus on during this writing session?

If you have multiple works-in-progress, you have two decisions to make – First, choose which item you will work on and then choose which scene to explore.

2) What tools are you going to use?

Will you write in a notebook today or will you be using Google docs? Word or Scrivener? Are you scrawling ideas on a whiteboard or using scraps of paper?

By selecting your tools in advance, you put yourself into the right work mode and you avoid time lost in switching from tool to tool while you decide.

3) How much information do you need before you write?

While research is very much a part of the writing process, researching while you (try to) write usually means that not much gets done. Either you don’t finish your research or you get lost on the internet and don’t get many words written.

If you want to research during this writing session – do your research. However, if it is time to write, then write. It’s okay to add notes to yourself in your early drafts like ‘add more detail about gardenias here.’ Those sort of notes help you to keep writing even if some details are sketchy.

4) What do you want to accomplish in your next writing session?

While this is similar to question number 1 above, this question is more specific.

How will you know if your writing is done for the day?

Do you have a time limit? A word count? A goal for this scene?

Since many of our projects are large and have multiple stages, it can be tricky to recognize our accomplishments as we go along. Deciding on what success looks like for each session is a good way to encourage ourselves to keep working toward the bigger goal of finishing the project.

5) How will you handle distractions?

Since distractions are a fact of most of our lives, it’s a good to decide in advance how you can help yourself avoid or minimize them.

Will you turn off your phone? Do you need a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign for the back of your chair?

What specific things can you do to increase your focused writing time?

Obviously, it won’t always be possible for you to work your way through each of these questions every time you write. But, if you make a habit of considering these things in advance, you will increase your satisfaction with your writing sessions overall.

Write on!