Committing to write4 min read
You’ve decided to write your novel/play/cereal commercial. That’s great, congratulations! That’s one big adventure that you, and your characters, are about to embark on. I’m super excited for you (and craving cereal)!
So what can you do to help yourself stick to your commitment? You’ve already got a job/the kids/that pesky social life, how can you consistently fit in that time to write?
There’s plenty of great advice out there, starting with working out when you feel most up for writing. Early in the morning? During the witching hour? Work out what time fits in with that circadian rhythm of yours, then ring-fence half an hour to write. (Don’t open Pokemon Go. I mean it. Put your phone away!)
Lots of authors set themselves a word target. Between 500 – 1,000 words a day seems to be the norm for many professional writers but, again, you need to figure out what works for you. Some authors have only aimed for a sentence a day (*cough* Joyce *cough*). Try drawing a box chart where you can tick off each block of 500 words as you complete it. That sense of achievement when you tick off the next box? That’s going to help you keep coming back to the page.
One of the best things that I have done to keep committed is to tell everyone I’m writing. I mean it, EVERYONE. It might be embarrassing at times, but making yourself accountable for not writing can be the push you need to pick up the pen and write a few more words. If you know your friends and family are going to ask how the book is going then you won’t want to keep mumbling about how you’re still only one chapter in. I have a dedicated friend who I call when I’m struggling and get to harass me. A simple “have you written any more yet?” query from her on a regular basis got me from my first ever Chapter One to my first quartet of novels.
The most important thing to remember though is that, however you decide to set your manageable target, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet it. If you’re not meeting it very often, reflect on it and adjust until your target is consistently achievable.
Writing is hard, and sometimes the magic just isn’t flowing. But Ayn Rand has some words of wisdom for you: “when you know what you want– you go toward it. Sometimes you go very fast, and sometimes only an inch a year. Perhaps you feel happier when you go fast. I don’t know. I’ve forgotten the difference long ago, because it really doesn’t matter, so long as you move.” And she wrote some bloody long novels.
Research suggests it takes 66 days to form a habit. So set yourself a small target, maybe only 150 words to start with, and see if you can do it for 66 days in succession. Build from there. Even if it’s an inch a year, move it people. (Move it, move it!)
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