While there is no one set of rules for writing, or for writers, we all share a common goal: to complete a book. But how we accomplish this goal is as varied as the stories we tell, and the pitfalls we encounter along the way.
Keeping a project moving forward despite anniversary parties and ball practices and household chores is hard enough. Staying positive and not giving in to despair when the story hits a wall and writer’s block sets in is a whole other challenge in itself.
Part of being a writer is learning how to reach your goals knowing life does not stop just because you are writing a book. Sinks get stopped up, cars break down, and children become sick.
So how do you power through the demands and distractions of daily life to produce the great American novel? By working to minimize challenges writers face and incorporating processes and tips aimed at helping you get your writing done and complete your book.
Tips for Getting Writing Done
Make Writing a Priority
If you are serious about completing your book, writing must be a priority. Eliminate interruptions and carefully guard writing time. Turn off the phone and social media. Respond to texts and emails after writing. If you don’t make writing a priority, it never will be.
Same Time, Same Place
Routine is a powerful force to be reckoned with. Creating a consistent routine, including when and where you write, sets the stage for creative juices to flow. A set writing routine conditions your mind to switch into creative mode automatically. Experiment to determine what routine works best for you. Do you write best in the morning or at night? Is there a certain location or chair or desk you feel most comfortable? Do you set goals by word count or page number or time limit? Once you’ve figured out what makes you most comfortable and productive, stick to it and build that routine.
Sit Your Backside in the Chair
Only writing when you feel inspired is a sure-fire way to never completing your book. The writers who succeed are the ones who think of writing as a job and apply the same work principles. Show up every day and write. Doing so keeps you engaged with the story and the creative juices flowing.
Writing requires concentration and focus. Eliminate anything that causes your mind to wander or worry while writing. This includes unwanted doubts about what you are doing or unrealistic expectations about how much you have accomplished. Worry does nothing but eat away creativity. Instead, put all thought out of your head and focus on allowing the story to develop naturally. Freeing your mind, in turn, frees up endless possibilities and opens the door to exciting developments.
Cut First Drafts Some Slack
The purpose of the first draft is to get the story on paper; perfection is not the goal. Revision is where you rework and rework that first draft lump of coal into a shiny diamond. But you’ll never get that diamond if you don’t first create that lump of coal with your first draft.
Give Your Brain a Rest
There will be times you hit a wall: a scene just won’t go right, a character falls flat, or narrative loses its spark. Your mind goes blank, even. At times like this a good airing out away from the computer does wonders. Walking, riding a bike, bird watching – really any activity that gets the blood flowing to the brain is helpful in overcoming hurdles and keep progressing. Too, never underestimate the power reading has on us and our work. Keep moving and reading to refresh the mind and keep the words flowing.