It is easy to procrastinate writing your story, but the story will not create itself. Your plot is yours to write—set up a daily goal to reach your dream!
If the problem for you is that you sit at the computer, and “I’m just gonna…” and then head over to check Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Reddit, Facebook again, etc. etc. I have two tips that I’ve read from two different authors, which gave me motivation.
Write as a daily goal
Both these tips are basically to have a daily goal of working on your story every day but with two different approaches. Making your task a daily habit is not something new or exclusive to writing; it can apply to any aspects of life. But the two methods I’ll talk about here will be for writing specifically.
Make at least one definite move daily toward your goal.Bruce Lee
It is also essential to remember that it is okay not to do anything daily. If your schedule or health or motivation doesn’t allow it, don’t do it. But don’t skip out because you rather watch Netflix, prioritise. If you want to write this story, write it.
Ms Atwood also mentions that this is one recommendation that she has been unable to follow. So even if you can’t write every day, don’t despair. But also note that Mr Patterson went up at 5 o’clock every day to write for two hours before going to his day job.
“Oh, I don’t feel like it today.” “I don’t feel like it tomorrow.” Feel like it. Do it. Force yourselfFrom James Patterson’s Masterclass Writing
But never forget, the most critical thing in all this is you. You need to take care of yourself; your health must always come first, never the book. Do not push yourself so hard that you get sick, gets stressed out, or lose your friends and family.
Write X words
In the afterwords of the books of Good Omens where Neil Gaiman writes about his co-author Terry Pratchett, he says how Mr Pratchett started with a goal of writing 400 words per day. He would sit down every night, after his fulltime work, and write 400 words, no matter what.
One night, a year later, he finished a novel, with a hundred words still to go, so he put a piece of paper into his typewriter and wrote a hundred words of the next novel.Neil Gaiman about Terry Pratchett
Four hundred words aren’t that much, and more often than not, it will lead to writing even more. 400 isn’t overwhelming; it is small enough that it feels doable. Writing a book of 100 000 words can seem daunting, but 400 words are easy peasy!
One problem you can end up in is if you start to write on average over 1 000 words, and then you have a slow period and writes only 600-800 words instead. Remind yourself that the goal is 400, doesn’t matter if you’ve written on average of 1 000 for months, and now edging down. 400 is the goal, always. Anything more is just a bonus.
Write for Y minutes
Author Chuck Palahniuk shares some writing tips over at Lit reactor he has found over the years as an author. One of the tips I liked was one where he said to sit down and write. He calls it the “egg timer method” of writing.
It means to set an alarm of 30 minutes, or 60 minutes, or whatever timespan that you have available. During this time, you sit with your text and write, if you after 60 minutes still don’t know what you want to do or even want to write, you are free. But more often than not, you will have entered into the flow of things and will want to keep writing.
James Patterson talks about the same thing in his masterclass Writing, where he says that he wrote for 2 hours every morning before going to his day job when he first started. He suggests that half an hour is not enough and that you should try to fit in at least one hour, somewhere.
On the train, before you go to work, get up earlier. When you come home, before dinner, after dinner.From James Patterson’s Masterclass Writing
If possible, make it so that the time after your allotted time is also free, so that you can continue writing if you feel like it. If you don’t, then it was just 60 minutes, and you can now do something else.
Maybe you do not want to write every day or can’t write every day. Then you can adapt it to your schedule and set goals accordingly. Write 500 words per week. Write for 1 hour in a month. Even just thinking about your story for 30 minutes while travelling or before falling asleep.
If it is hard getting it done even with these goals, then find a friend that can motivate you, that can remind you. It is not a weakness to have or need a companion helping you find the motivation to work on your novel. Maybe they act as someone to bounce ideas of or just someone that will remind you to work on the story a few days a week.
Or try to start a blog, a progress blog, where you write daily, weekly, monthly how the progress is going. Write how far you’ve come since the last post, what is blocking you, your struggles. Writing like this helps me want to work more on my stories since I don’t want to write a weekly update to say I’ve done nothing. Even if all I’ve done is research how a character dresses, or how a forest would look like, or other “procrastination,” it is better than nothing. It is up to you if the blog is public or private, how much you pour out your struggles or keep it vague to not spoil the book.