How to Get Writing Done on a Weekend

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notebook and pencils

This weekend, I have a lot of writing to do. I’m a tiny bit behind on this month’s blogging challenge (I drove to Pensacola and back yesterday for a quick visit with my parents and didn’t get a chance to post yesterday), I have a big post planned for later this week, and I have a few work-related projects that need to be written before Thanksgiving. The rest of my week will go a lot more smoothly if I can get lots of writing done today — but that’s easier said than done. I’m tired, it’s the weekend, and all I really want to do is be lazy.

I wish I had a secret formula to make writing easy when every part of your being is telling you to lay on the couch and watch Netflix. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good way to make it easy; when it comes down to it, the work itself is almost always a challenge. But here’s how I convince myself to get it done anyway:

Start Early

I’m a naturally a night owl, not an early bird. It’s tough for me to get going in the morning, but I try to do it anyway because it really helps my productivity. Getting one project complete has a hugely positive impact on how I feel about the rest of the day — once I post this blog, for example, I know I’ll get a little burst of good feelings from having completed a task. I’ll feel productive and accomplished, and that will help me BE productive and accomplish more. And if it doesn’t work? I’ll know that, no matter what else I’m able to get done (or not) today, at least I’ve done one project.

Set Low Expectations

This one is tough for me, and I definitely don’t do it perfectly. Ideally, if you’re having a tough time getting into writing on the weekend, your to-do list should fit on a post-it note; more than two or three projects is more likely to be defeating than anything else. I know it’s tempting to pack the list full of projects, and I’m certainly guilty of this (today, for example, my list is already freaking me out). But even if your list is long, pick three or fewer tasks that are the most important. Try to do them early (at least do one of them early), and tell yourself your day is a success if you finish them. It’s better to get three important things done on the weekend than to create a list that’s so long and discouraging that you don’t do any of them. (I’ll say it again; I’m terrible at this. But I’m trying.)

Bribe Yourself

I’m not one of those “have an m&m each time you finish a paragraph” people — I’d just eat all the m&ms at once. But having a coffee or a good snack while I’m writing can definitely be helpful. So can giving myself permission to quit. Most weekends, I try to get an hour or two of writing in, and then I let myself have the day off. It’s hard to get motivated to work when you know your “reward” is just more work. Unless you’re on deadline or in the midst of a personal challenge you really want to see through, give yourself permission to slack off after you’d completed your key tasks.

Skip out on Responsibilities

Chances are, you have a long to-do list on the weekend that has nothing to do with writing — I know I do. Weekends are the time to do laundry, tidy the house, meal plan, grocery shop and meal prep. These are things I like to do on the weekends because my week goes more smoothly when I do them. But on days when I’m really prioritizing work, I have to let myself out of as many chores as possible. Of course, there are some things that can’t be skipped (especially if you have kids). But if you really need a day for writing, take an honest look at your list and keep only the things that must be done — that means the dishes might be dirty and laundry might have to wait until Wednesday.

If you’re trying to fight through writing on the weekend, your list might look very different from mine; these are the strategies that I’ve developed throughout the years that seem to work better for my particular personality and psychology. The point isn’t to do these things — the goal is to find the strategies that work best for you so that you can meet your own goals.

Carrie Rollwagen is cofounder of Church Street Coffee & Books and host of the podcast Everybody Hates Self-Publishing. She hopes you’ll read as many books as you can, and that you’ll get them all from your local bookshop or library. You can find Carrie on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @crollwagen.

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