We all know that we need to write more and with better efficiency to reach our goals. I bet just reading that sentence spikes your adrenaline. Yes, you think. I do need to write more. Oh God, why can’t I stick to a writing schedule? This is why I’m not where I want to be. I’m a procrastinator. I’m disorganized. I’m hopeless!
Stop the spiral.
To boost writing productivity, become your own coach. The browbeating or avoiding has got to stop. You also need to pick and choose the advice that works for you. At this point in your life, you should know yourself. What makes you clean or exercise, even when you don’t want to? What prompted you to do your homework, back in the day? Use your knowledge of yourself to create a system of writing productivity.
Be Honest About Your Schedule
Even if people had eight hours of free time during the day, they still would likely have a hard time spending all of that writing. For most of us, there’s always something to do. That could be the job that pays, housework, caring for children or aging parents, appointments, banking, grocery runs—all of the minutia of daily life. And those things have to be done. Writing can always find its way to the back burner.
If you’re a planner, use your natural instincts to your advantage. Put writing time on the calendar. Keep that appointment with yourself as though you had scheduled it with someone else. Fight the urge to over plan, however. Things will pop up, so make your writing time firm but flexible. If you think you have four hours, schedule two hours. The more you stick to your plan, the more pride you feel and the easier it will be to keep it up.
Make it a Contest
You know how some people say life’s not a contest? Well, that attitude doesn’t work for everyone. If you’re the kind of person who never cleans until company is coming or you never did homework until the night before the deadline, face it. You need external motivation. Unless you have a contract with a deadline, writing is currently requiring internal motivation. That’s not working for you. If it was, you’d be further along. What you need is a looming deadline.
There are a couple of ways to achieve this. You could tell everyone you know that you’re going to complete your manuscript by X date (make it something reasonable). Perhaps the shame of having to admit you didn’t hit your target will help you. Or, sign up for NaNoWriMo. Use their calendar and countdowns as your motivation. You could also try entering a contest or getting an accountability partner. If you’re the type of person who needs this type of motivation, go get it. Self-coaching is about using your foibles to your own advantage.
When tackling a big project, be it weight loss, home improvement, or writing a novel, it’s best to break down the big goal into bite-sized pieces. It’s so incredibly discouraging to squint at the top of the mountain from where you begin at the bottom. Whether it’s losing twenty pounds or hitting 90,000 words, these are big projects. It can feel like nothing that happens on any given day is that important. What are 400 words going to matter? What’s skipping a workout mean?
The truth is, all big goals are the result of tenaciously and consistently working toward daily or weekly mini goals. You’ve got to fight the urge to be a dichotomous thinker. In writing, that looks like not writing for a week if you can’t stitch together five hours at a time or hit 2,000 words a day. Make goals that seem easy to achieve. Then meet them. This will build the muscle of doing what you say you’ll do. In time, keeping your word to yourself will result in a completed manuscript. Now, get in the game, self!