Step Away from Your Laptop
Pick up pen and paper and think
by Joanne Troppello
“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” — Mark Twain
That statement by Mark Twain is truly the bedrock of writing. It’s generally easy to start writing. The hard part is having to trim the fat and get rid of the fluff to ensure the highest level of reader engagement possible.
Sometimes, it’s important to take a break from your writing so you can write the best possible content. Sure, writing each day is good, just remember that adding break times into your writing schedule can significantly improve your productivity levels.
Don’t be afraid to step away from your laptop and pick up pen and paper and think.
I work from home as a freelance writer, so I have more flexibility in my schedule. You may or may not have that flexibility. However, whenever you get a chance to sit down to write, make sure that you schedule in break time.
That can help you to think more clearly. When you finish a draft, don’t immediately start editing it. Get up and change your location.
“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly: sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” — Ernest Hemingway
That is true. You may have days where the writing flows and others when your creativity is simply exhausted. That’s ok. That’s when you know you need to get up and move. Do something else.
Just remember, don’t stay away from your laptop for too long. Then it could be more difficult to start writing again.
Pen and paper
I love my laptop, but when I’m making lists, I definitely turn toward pen and paper.
I find that it’s easier for my mind to process thoughts better during brainstorming periods when I’m writing them down on paper rather than typing them on the computer.
Maybe it’s because I’m old school and started writing poems and short stories on notebook paper during high school. You may prefer creating lists on your laptop or list apps like the top 11 list apps of 2020 as listed in Zapier, like TickTick, Todoist, Microsoft To Do, OmniFocus, and Things.
The lists I write on pen and paper are topics for new articles so that any time I sit down to write, I always have ideas ready.
Sometimes, I simply sit outside on my deck and brainstorm or free write in a stream of consciousness format. This may seem like a waste of time since I’m not trying to think of new topic ideas, but it’s productive because it gives my brain a break from writing and editing—and I can simply think.
Other times, I write lists of things I need to improve on in my writing. I may not always see these things while I’m at my laptop writing. However, stepping away for a bit, can give me a new perspective. It can help me see things I’ve been doing wrong and do new things that can improve my writing—and write articles that resonate with readers to increase reader engagement.
Reading other articles
You can step away from your laptop and pick up your phone, go to a new location, and read online articles.
Right now, since I joined Medium in March 2020, I have spent my afternoon break time reading 2-6 articles on the Medium platform. I look for tips on writing, how writers have been successful on this venue, and articles on self-improvement, positivity, relationships, or faith.
Before I joined Medium, I used my break time to read two chapters a day in a fiction book that I was reading to review for my column at Mustard Seed Sentinel, my online magazine.
However, now I’m hooked on reading Medium articles, so book reviews have been put on the back burner for now.
“Just write everyday of your life. Read intensely, then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have pleasant careers.” — Ray Bradbury
I love this quote by Ray Bradbury.
I have always been a reader since I was a young child. I started writing at a young age. However, it wasn’t until this last year that I have realized how much reading has improved my skills as a writer. For a while before that, I focused so much attention on writing and writing and writing and didn’t read much.
Once I started reading again each day, things definitely improved in my writing.
“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” — W. Somerset Maugham
Writing is a personal journey. Whether you are writing poetry, fiction, or nonfiction—we all write at our own pace and share our experiences through words.
We all go through different stages in our writing careers. However, I do believe that it’s important to work towards improving as a writer—and individual—each day.
I hope you can take away something from this article that can inspire your writing journey. We’re all in this together and I look forward to reading more motivational articles from writers I have come to respect and have learned from.
Previously published on Medium.
About the Author
Joanne Troppello is an author, writer, and poet. She is the publisher of the online Christian lifestyle magazine, Mustard Seed Sentinel.