I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by. -Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt
Some people say that writing takes dedication, practice, diligence, hard-work, and serious commitment. You need to sit down somewhere, block out all distractions, and work.
Other people say they can only write when their muse whispers the words into their ears. These people say their writing cannot be rushed, and must come out naturally and without pressure.
Personally, I think it’s a combination of the two. Yes, sometimes I have to sit myself down with a keyboard in front of my hands and force myself to start. There are occasionally backspace marathons, pauses for thought, and sometimes even self-bribes where I swear after a certain amount of words I’ll have a delicious treat or watch an episode of a show I like (as of now, Netflix is both a blessing and a curse). Overall, I find my muse likes talking to me when I’m actually putting forth the effort to make the story happen.
For the past few months, I’ve managed to average between 56,000-63,000 words every month since November 2017.
All together, I’ll have written almost 252,000 total words by the end of February (four months worth of writing).
Sound insane? Yes. Yes it is. Yet, I still plan to write a lot more words by the end of 2019.
Now, if you’ve made it this far into the blog, you’re probably hoping that I have some sort of super secret, works every time, very simple way of writing that allows me to finish so much when I’ve already got a lot on my plate. I’ve got a needy cat, full-time job, amazingly supportive partner, and other interests that I love (Netflix, TsumTsum, and sleeping more than 8 hours, to name a few).
Well, here’s the sad truth: after three years of not writing down a single word towards a novel or series, I finally had enough. I made this goal of writing 9 series in a little over a year because I was tired of picking up a project only to put it down because it was ‘too hard’. I got sick of looking at the pages app on my phone and seeing several started but unfinished novels (which I’ll get to someday… I swear…).
So I put my foot down and did what I said I would: I wrote.
It wasn’t easy at first. In fact, some days I hated writing. I hated trying to come up with something when I just really wasn’t feeling it. So what did I do on those days when my fingers wouldn’t type out a single, comprehensible sentence?
I got organized.
I worked on outlines. I planned out how I wanted the next part to start, progress, and end. Strangely enough, that only helped half the time. I still had moments where I didn’t want to even think about the story I was working on. So, I made deadlines for myself. I have 2-3 days to finish each part, plus 2-3 days each for two edits (one is a deep clean, the other more of a double-check). No matter what, I do my best to finish by the 27th of every month (thanks February for not giving me the option of the 30th).
Even with superior planning, my mind still made surprise, twist endings the even I didn’t think of originally for the storyline (If you want an example, the last part of The Labyrinth City Series, The Mundane Unknown, takes an interesting turn… Though I’m glad it did). So in a sense, even I don’t entirely like rushing my work.
Overall, there really is no one-size-fits-all solution to motivating yourself to write. Each person is completely different, and each person needs to try different methods to see what works for them. As a final note, here’s a few things you can try if you find yourself lost and don’t know how to keep your writing up.
•Set a time and place to write everyday. Ex: Bedroom before lunch, kitchen table from 7-9pm, or living room from 6-7am before getting ready for school/work.
•Keep a notebook or file that you write down your outlines on. It might take a while and some experimenting, but after some time you’ll find an outline style that works for you. Personally, I like breaking up each story by beginning, middle, and end, and working my way from there.
•Make a playlist of music that gets you inspired to write. Or make several playlists for certain moods you’ve got planned for your writing, such as a sad playlist, happy playlist, dramatic playlist, etc.. Personally I find soft, melodic music with less lyrics perfect for when I write. I love to sing horribly to songs that I know, so it gets distracting trying to sing and write at the same time.
•Keep track of how much you write everyday. This helped me greatly with my first series since I kept myself on a strict deadline. It was helpful, and also kept me in check. I found a few good excels online, but ended up making my own so it could fit my needs. You can also just write down the counts everyday on a sticky note, notepad, scratch paper, etc..
•Make small reminders about why you’re writing. This one certainly helped me out. It can be hard trying to complete something when you can’t see the end. It can be even more difficult when you lose sight of why you started writing in the first place.
•Take breaks. Get out of the house. Sitting in front of a computer or writing pad doesn’t do any good if you’re staring off into space or browsing the web. Yes, research is important, but a clear head can do wonders for a writer. A quick walk around the block while you mentally go over your story can be immensely helpful.