Keep your writing going – How?
Have you got stuck, half-way through your book or writing job? Or is it hard to find time to write? Here is my advice on ‘Ways to make sure you finish your book’ – divided into Finding time to write (1–2), Writing tips (3–6) and Motivational help (7–10).
1. Go on a writing retreat/week-end. We all get stuck at times, but getting away for a few days is a great way to re-focus on the job, stir your creative juices and re-energise. Can you resist the idea of a week-end retreat this winter, and writing beside a log fire?
2. Block time in your diary. If your life has become busier, or circumstances changed, your book can easily get squeezed-out. However, making an ‘appointment’ with yourself in your diary is a simple way to ensure you sit down and write – and a reminder to say ‘No’ to invitations from family and friends.
3. Did you plan enough? It can be tempting to start writing too early, before we have fully planned our book’s plot/contents, in which case take some time out to think. Likewise, each time you finish writing make a plan of what comes next – better still, leave that final bit of writing till next time, so you re-start with a bang.
4. Sort out writer’s block. The remedies for this depend on the cause, but here are a few ideas. You may: be stressed by other things in your life (in which case sort them out, put them on one side, or put your writing temporarily on one side); be daunted by the size of the job (break it down into more manageable sections/chunks); have doubts about your plot and characters (ask others for their views); or lacking in energy (are you taking enough exercise/breaks, or would a change of scene help?).
5. Find a writing buddy. People are motivated by different things, but having a writing buddy can provide some gentle pressure – and also support. Commit yourself to exchanging ‘X’ thousand words each week/month, and giving feedback. And to build your bond, meet occasionally for a coffee or meal.
6. Would voice recognition software help? For people with busy lifestyles and/or who dislike sitting at a computer for hours, voice recognition software may provide a more flexible and spontaneous way to ‘write’.
7. Set yourself word-count targets. From my experience, you need to have a regular writing routine, and be committed to writing a target word count (e.g. 5,000 words) each week. Nothing works like a bit of pressure. But make sure you keep to your targets; once you let slip it can be harder and repetitive to re-start.
8. Remind yourself why you are writing. It is easy to get bogged down when writing, and to ‘lose sight of the wood for the trees’. Reminding yourself of your goals – and posting them alongside you – can keep you spurred on.
9. Reward progress. Word-count targets provide a ‘motivational stick’, but positive encouragement is also important. So why not celebrate e.g. finishing a chapter with a nice bottle of wine, a meal out or favourite walk? Enjoyable incentives like these will stir you to keep going.
10. And finally, announce your publication date. It might sound severe, but some people need this this extra shove to ensure they keep writing – to avoid any public embarrassment and feeling of ‘failure’.