Sometimes I really need a good kick in the ass-especially when it comes to writing. It’s far too easy to say “I will work on it tomorrow…or this weekend…or next summer.” And then another year has gone by and my characters have grown so tired of standing around inside my head that they threaten to leak out into everything else.
So here it is: my list for staying on top of my writing.
- Write every day. Even if it’s just one measly little sentence. Open the computer, open the story, and write at least one little thing. Don’t let the story fade into the background noise of your life.
- Write new words. Don’t just re-read what you’ve got. I’m a sucker for stories like the one I’m writing. Of course I am–that’s why I’m writing it. I can’t tell you how easy it is to get sucked into the wormhole of that story–you know, the one that I’ve already written. But if you want to ever finish the story, you need to be composing–not editing. The time for wordsmithing will come. For now, just get the words out. You can make them pretty later!
- Have some way to stay accountable-a writer’s group, a good friend, a significant other–it doesn’t matter. And the person doesn’t need to read your work (unless they want to of course!). The point is that they ask you if you’ve been writing–and make you feel a little guilty if the answer is no. A friend of mine have a deal–if either of us doesn’t write (or create, since he’s a musician) every single day, then we both have to take the stairs all day. My office is on the third floor and I teach downstairs and upstairs all day. And I’m lazy. When I find myself tempted to goof off on my phone instead of writing, I remind myself of all of those stairs, and I pull out the computer.
- Set reasonable goals in writing. Nothing feels better than crossing something off a list. A friend of mine makes sticky notes that she puts around her room. Write down a small goal–say “Write for ten minutes today” or even “Write 200 words” or whatever goal seems workable for you–and then do it! Put it on sticky notes that follow you around the house! Maybe have some penalties if you don’t do it.
And that’s it. That’s what works for me. It’s not fancy. It’s not complicated. But when I do these four things, I produce writing, and that’s the goal. Of course, this list changes when I’m in editing mode, but for straight-up get the words out of my head and onto the page kind of production, this helps get me there.
And this may not work for you. That’s fine! Come up with your own list. Keep it simple. Keep it realistic. Don’t spend valuable writing time tweaking the tiniest details here–scratch down some ideas and get to work.
You can do this.