“As a novelist, I find that there are days when the words flow easily, and others when even writing the first sentence feels about as easy as climbing Mount Everest in flip-flops.”
So often, we start big-scale writing projects with high hopes. We are gung ho, ready to go, pumped, juiced, excited. And then somehow, as time goes on, that start-up enthusiasm begins to leak away. We put the project aside, we let ourselves be distracted, or we start something else because we’ve hit a rough patch and don’t know what to do.
How can we stay strong and push forward? A recent article by Cara Lockwood, a USA Today bestselling author and writing coach (www.edit-my-novel.com), featured in Book Baby’s online newsletter offered some useful strategies:
Write every day: When you’re involved in a major project like a novel, losing momentum isn’t just time-consuming, it’s also emotionally draining. starting and stopping can sap your motivational fuel, just as it does gas in a car. The Antidote? Stay in touch with your characters and your story by writing every day. This way, you won’t have to keep “rebooting” your story. As Cara puts it, “Writing every day helps keep your characters fresh. It also will help the words flow.”
Press the “Pause” button on your inner critic: Listening to that voice yammering inside your head debating whether you’re talented enough or smart enough to write isn’t going to get you from Point A to Point B. If you stop listening and keep writing, it usually fades away. So keep writing. As Cara suggests, “Get words down on paper and then worry later if they’re any good. It is far easier to edit a bad manuscript than to write one from scratch.”
Set doable goals — and exceed them: It isn’t news, but One of the keys to achieving goals you set is to make sure they’re reasonable: That they stretch you a bit, but don’t make you snap. So come up with a word or page count that you want to meet each day — and meet it. think of your page count as A minimum — and then push yourself to exceed it, even just by a bit. Do this consistently and you’ll make real progress. Surpassing yourself is one of the best ways to give yourself a motivating boost.
Stay focused: When you’re writing, write. Don’t stop to check your email or go on Facebook. Eliminate distractions so that you can concentrate on the job at hand.
Don’t panic about your progress: Instead of thinking about how much work you have ahead of you, “concentrate on how much you’ve already done. “This is the writer’s equivalent of “Don’t look down,” says Cara. “If you start worrying about how many pages or words you have left to write, you might find yourself with a pretty hefty case of vertigo and get stuck from sheer fright.” Cara overcomes the tendency to worry about what’s left to do by printing out her pages every day and reading them. Having them physically in hand and watching them stack up day by day gives her a solid feelings of making progress and moving forward” “As I hold the papers in my hand, I can really see how much writing I am doing every day. As my stack of pages grows, so does my confidence.”
Value your deadlines: Many of us dread deadlines, but Cara has a different view. She sees them as “Just The universe inspiring you to finish.” So, whether your deadlines are external or self-imposed, think of them as just another tool in your writing kit bag. But here’s one thing I’ve learned about deadlines myself from years of freelancing: Don’t make them if you don’t plan to meet them. If you keep setting deadlines for yourself and then blow them off, you’ll just become frustrated with yourself. So think of deadlines as you do page or word counts: keep them reasonable and Make sure you meet them.
And write on!