Trying to go the distance, are we? Here are a few ‘steps’ which have, almost coincidentally, worked for me to keep me writing day after day after day for over a month.
I know, I know. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s one of the best ways to ruin your posture for the rest of your days. But it’s the thing you want to be doing, so why not do it?
#2 Don’t sweat how much you’ve actually written
After meeting the 50k NaNo goal for 2019, I’ve written way less in the remaining 13 days than in the first 17. Actually, I’ve had a few days, late in the month, when I’ve written well under 300 words per day. (I also took a full day off!) Doing so, I’ve been pleased to discover that writing ‘today’, no matter the quantity of words itself, made me more prone to write tomorrow, too. (And don’t get me started on the ‘quality’ argument.)
#3 Whatever you do, don’t look back
…at least not until you’re done with the writing part for today. Editing is not nearly the same as writing, and it has been argued that it employes completely different parts of your personality. (I’m still not sure, nor do I bother with finding out.) Unless the only way for you to write is to revise the last few pages you’ve written at the start of every new session, type, and leave editing for a later time. It’s inevitable, anyway.
#4 Have fun with what you’re writing
You’re the donkey, writing is your carrot. It’s a win-win situation. If you’d preferred your carrot peeled, peel the hell out of your character’s hide. If you like them boiled, boil them hard to get down to business with your plot. And if you’re like me, just nibble at the goddamn carrot raw, every few months when you remember you have to take care of your eyesight (even more when you’re a writer), and try not to pour out too much of your heart on the page, alright?
#5 Associate writing with ‘me-time’
I’ve actually heard a writer acquaintance of mine say this before I’ve manage to understand that it applies to me, too—writing is something I primarily do for me, and the one thing which, more than most other things (luckily, my family time and the cinema still rank near and/or above it) makes me feel freakin’ awesome. Sure, I do other things to let my brain graze in the field (don’t ask, local saying), but writing gives back time invested in multiples. Some people call it therapy, I call it maintenance. If you feel similar, why not view your writing session as a cheaper, more immediate version of a day in the spa?*
#6 Make it a priority
What it says on the tin. It does feel awkward at the beggining, but it’s worth it just to make the logical side of your brain realize it is a priority. Just one you haven’t put in your daily schedule yet. What are you waiting for?
#7 Be honest with yourself
If writing is not working for you—to borrow words from a famous non-fiction writer, if writing doesn’t bring you joy—let it go and find something which will. Forcing yourself to write will not. make. you. write. (Unless you’re doing NaNoWriMo, in which case it might help. Sometimes.) On a similar note, there will be days—weeks, even, and I’ve had a few months like it this year, too—when you won’t think yourself capable of writing, and the idea of sitting down and spending ages alone with your keyboard and your screen will seem like the absolute worst thing you could do for yourself—and to yourself. Taking a break is not a crime. Neither is using excuses to stop yourself from writing more often. Do what works for you. (But the latter choice will lose you points, sorry.)
#8 Write, again
At a certain point—a bit after the 21 day mark which is allegedly enough to create a habit—I’ve found that writing’s become part of the daily routine for me. I honestly didn’t expect it to happen, and that realization is one of the reasons I’m writing this post. I still had days I simply didn’t want to face certain scenes—part of the ending blues—but sitting down to write was as easy and natural and inescapable as making coffee in the morning.
So I guess what they say might be true, after all. Start doing something, do it for a few weeks, and it’ll be just one of the things you do without thinking about it. Just don’t overthink any of it, and you should do fine. Today can be the first of the 21 habit-making days for you—or it can be an umpteenth day of listening to your own inner whiner as to why today is not a good day to write.
What’s it gonna be?
*Please note that I’ve never actually spent a day at the spa—not my cup—but I presume it’s worth it.