How to Get It Done: 10 Tips From A Lawyer to an Aspiring Writer

DisciplineIf it sounds like this post is going to be me giving advice to myself, then you are correct.  This is what it has come down to.  Sigh.  Maybe you have figured this out, but I’ve been doing a lot of lawyering lately—so much so that I couldn’t even THINK about putting together a blog post last week.  This week things are still a bit cray cray, but I have at least used some of my creative juices.  Yup, I started my short story about an addict.  It’s horrible right now, but writing it has been an interesting exercise nevertheless.

Anyway, last week when I was subject to a bunch of deadlines I had a thought.  That thought was that I would certainly make those deadlines because if law school and lawyering have taught me anything, it’s how to be disciplined and get ish done.  Not to generalize, but I imagine that a smaller percentage of aspiring writers have mastered the art of completion the way many lawyers have.  Unfortunately, no one can write a novel without discipline.  For that reason, I have listed 10 tips for aspiring writers about getting ish done from my life as a lawyer:

  1. Just because you have completed a first draft does not mean you are done.  Edit, revise, review, scrutinize.
  2. When stressed, alcohol (despite its relaxation effects) is a bad choice.  This is because it will make you fall asleep, meaning you will cease to make any progress.
  3. Create a schedule with small achievable goals and stick to it.  Be sure to include fun on the schedule.  But stick to it.
  4. Don’t pull all-nighters.  And certainly do not PLAN to pull an all-nighter.  All it does is take you out the next day and mess up your entire sleep, digestive, and other systems.  It’s not worth it!
  5. Pay limited attention to the practices of your peers with the same goal as you (whether to complete a novel, excel on an exam or make your hours).  It’s useful to see what is or is not working for others, but you’ll never have the whole story.  You don’t where they started or what else they have on their plate.  Just re-read # 3, and keep it moving.
  6. If you find yourself reading the same line over and over again for 15 minutes or more, stop what you’re doing and go to the gym (or for a run, or put in your Insanity video).
  7. Food is a distraction.  You think you can eat and work, but you really can’t (I’m not saying that I don’t continue to try, but that’s probably because I’m looking for a distraction).
  8. Try to remember why you are working so hard.  There must be a reason, use that to drive you.  If you don’t have a reason then maybe you should be devoting you energy to something else.
  9. Do not cancel plans with friends or neglect family.  This is crucial.  What’s the point of achieving your goal if you no one to share it with??
  10. Facebook is a distraction. That is why I posted this on Facebook.  Because I want to catch you while you are procrastinating.  If you truly want to complete something, do not log onto Facebook.  Or at least force yourself to work for an hour before you do.  If that’s too difficult, start with 15 minutes and then work your way up.

Of course this is advice to myself because soon I will have to become disciplined with respect to this novel.  As I may have mentioned, I believe that in order to complete a novel I will have to commit to writing every day.  I plan to begin this exercise Nov. 1 for National Novel Writing Month (seemed fitting).  Seeing that today is Oct. 18, it’s time that I get my act together.  Til next time!

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