Most excuses are just that – excuses. It’s no different for writing than any other pursuit. If it’s important, you’ll make the time. I will be the first to admit that there are many that are more diligent than I am. The initial excitement soon gets bogged down in the middle, which becomes work, but tenacity forces us to continue.
Whether the goal is weight loss, learning a new skill, or writing a novel it’s important to make the time to focus on the goal. Weight loss just doesn’t magically happen, well at least not for me. It’s a matter of daily decisions accumulating to a one pound loss, then five pounds then more. It takes a deficit of 3500 calories to lose one pound. As the pounds add up, the motivation rises. The finish line gets closer with each smaller accomplishment. My weight loss has been slow, but steady.
It’s the same principle with writing. If I write only one page a day – that’s about 300 words, I will have a book in a year! With other obligations in our lives it is sometimes difficult to manage even that minimal amount. Last year I made writing a priority. I average around 2000 words per day. I don’t write every day because there are days when life gets in the way. For those days, it averages out for the days when I write huge amounts. My record is close to 10,000 in one day but that is the rare occurence. My writing pace is much slower than I would like. In the past six months, a friend made a simple statement to me that greatly impacted my thinking. If you’re going to be a writer then approach it as a real job.” So simple right?
If I were at a “real job” I wouldn’t spend work hours folding laundry. I wouldn’t spend hours watching mind numbing tv shows on the job either. When I worked in an office I was prompt and professional. Should I apply myself any less for my own success? I know others who work from their home, and they spend virtually all day in their pajamas. I can’t do that. I need to apply more self-discipline to be my own boss than when I worked in the office.
Here are some simple tips to make the time. It’s easy to apply the same tips to whatever your specific goal is.
- Write every day. This saves time as you don’t have to reread as much to figure out where you were going, and it sets the daily habit which is important.
- Set daily and weekly goals. I’ve fallen down on this one more than a few times. If I fail to set goals then I tend to meander aimlessly or lose motivation.
- Use your writing time wisely. This is where you have to apply your unique approach to optimize your efficiency. If you are a morning person then make the time to write in the morning. If you are a plotter, then plot out an outline to work from. Have the tools you need ready for best productivity.
- Know your work area. Do you require a perfectly sanitized clean desk? Do you have a mountain of clutter? Are you somewhere in between? Know which is best for you and maintain your work area.
- Don’t ‘research’ during prime hours. It is a major disruption to the flow of your writing to have to stop in the middle of a scene to research. I make notes on a notepad, yes the old-fashioned kind with an ink pen as I work. I note the chapter, scene, and sometimes page where I need the information. I jot down a note, then usually the next day I research when I’m online. I find it too distracting to actually write when I’m online because I want to chat with my friends.
- Decide how badly you want it. Are you willing to give up television? Are you willing to give up housework? ( A hearty amen to that one!) I’ve decided that I can’t afford to sacrifice sleep any longer. Sleep deprivation is not something I’m willing to go back to. I’m not willing to sacrifice my family for my writing endeavors. Managing this one takes planning ahead, and being disciplined with yourself.
Above all, realize we are only human. My friends remind me constantly that I am merely human. I have a tendency to think in super human goals, making it impossible to achieve. That is a self sabotaging trait that I am working on overcoming. The overachiever in me has to be realistic and breathe.
Have you ever set your mind to a task and achieved it? Would you be willing to share your struggles with others? Strong willed people tend to have to figure things out on their own. I can read about someone elses struggles and appreciate their growth but it isn’t until I learn from hands on experience that it really sinks in. What about you?
Write on my friends, write on!