Writing Time Wasters

I’m no more immune than anyone else to the plague of time wasters. Time wasters are habits we fall into that consume the time we have allotted (or could allot) to writing so that we end up not writing! Here are some of the most insidious that take up too much time and squander my writing energy.

  1. Checking on e-mail before I begin to write for the day. Either it takes up a lot of time as I read through the e-notes or I come across an e-mail that gets me charged and I begin to write a scathing (or, depending on your point of view, insightful!) e-mail in response.
  2. Needing to research a point “a bit more.” This is a very tricky one as research is essential to a well-written memoir. In this time waster, I forget that “perfect” is the enemy of “good.” In my quest to write the perfect piece, I forgo writing a good piece. The solution presents itself when I begin to feel that I already have more material than I can possibly handle—I know then it’s time to write!
  3. Letting my best writing time of the day be co-opted. In this time waster, I think, “Yes, I can do both. I’ll do this other thing first and write later (obviously it doesn’t occur to me right then that ‘later’ I might be tired and in no mood to spend time writing!).” When “later” comes, I might think “Well, for this one time, it’s ok not to write.” The problem, of course, arises when the “one time” occurs too often.
  4. Answering the phone. This leads to much loss of energy and the assumption of all sorts of tasks that need attention “right now!” More productive to let the answering machine or service take the calls and return them at a later time.

Do you have a “favorite” writing time waster that I haven’t mentioned here? Write a paragraph and send it along. I’ll share it with your fellow memoirists in a forthcoming issue.

Need help organizing your writing time? Click here for information on my Memoir Writing Groups.

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About Denis Ledoux

Denis Ledoux began helping people to turn their memories into memoirs in 1988. Denis was named Lifewriting Professional of the Year by the Association of Personal Historians in 1996. Today, Denis is a writer, educator, teacher, autobiography co-author, memoir-writing coach, editor and publisher. He directs The Memoir Network, an international group of memoir professionals who use his method and materials to help people write lifestories. Denis also offers writing tele-classes and leads memoir writing tele-groups.
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