Guess what? I’m four days behind on my word count right now.
Am I freaking out? Maybe a little. But I found a way to cope and get back on track. Here it is!
Before you burst into angry roaring curse words, let me explain.
There’s an important question that you need to ask yourself. What’s holding you back? If it comes down to time management, see if shuffling your routine would be helpful. I know a lot of us work full time jobs, some have families to care for and others are going to school full-time. It’s a lot to deal with and making some me-time to write can seem impossible.
Here’s some things that might help:
Change up your schedule! Wake up an hour earlier than usual (I honestly cannot do this one since I’d be waking up at 4 am). Write before bed when all the kiddies are asleep or all distractions are at a minimum. I like to write right when I get home, because I have the house to myself for a couple of hours. But things get in the way! House work needs to be done, or I have to go grocery shopping or get a dental cleaning (my excuse for not writing yesterday…is anyone else a nervous wreck after they leave the dentist?). But here’s the important thing: try every day. Even if it takes a week to get one day’s worth of writing done, you’re farther ahead than if you hadn’t tried so hard. Every word that you put on that paper is worth something. Don’t think of it in terms of a negative like “I have thirteen hundred more words to do,” think of it as “I’ve written 400 words.” Always think in the positive. Writing is something you love, otherwise you wouldn’t be here.
Change up the place! Go somewhere if you can. For me, I have two little doggies that whine at me to go outside, even if they don’t have to actually go. Last weekend I went to Starbuck’s and pounded out 5100 words. Sure, I felt like I had just pulled an all-nighter and I probably didn’t blink once the entire time. But I didn’t have any distractions. And I had the added motivation that I couldn’t go home until I finished.
So go to Starbuck’s or that cute little coffee shop down the street. Go to the library or the park. Write in your car if you have to. Or outside on your patio. Get creative and find some place to be productive to get you back in the flow!
Change up your strategy! If you’re making it to your computer everyday, but can’t seem to write anything, change up your strategy. If you’re a plotter, take a tiny idea and just write it out. Even if you word-vomit 2000 words and only 200 are any good, that’s 200 more words you have now! Good words at that! If you’re a pantser, take your idea and write down exactly what you want to have happen. I usually make a bulleted list for every scene I do so I don’t spend time trying to come up with it as I’m writing. I quickly jot it down and then get to writing!
There’s an awesome article that author Rachel Bach/Aaron wrote called How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day. She talks about how important it is for some people to know exactly what they’re writing before they sit down, so you can be more productive.
Sidenote: read everything else she has there! I got lost one afternoon on her blog I think I read everything she’s written so far.
Lastly…get inspired! A lack of inspiration/motivation is something that’s happened to me recently and it’s why I’m four days behind on my word count. I have all the story I need, I have (sometimes) the time to write, but I just can’t make myself sit down and start typing. But I did something yesterday that got me all fired up to write again. I started to read Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. For some strange reason, reading about the craft of writing gets me inspired again. Even if it’s in the fictional sense (like how many of Stephen King’s protagonists are writers), I just like seeing that people can actually do it. It’s hard work but it can be done. If they can do it, so can I…at least when it comes to the writing part, we’ll have to see about the publishing part later!
Here’s an interesting fact about Stephen King: did you know he threw away his manuscript on Carrie? His wife picked it up out of the trash and urged him to keep writing it. Now where would we be if she hadn’t been there?
Hearing encouraging words from your significant other or family members can feel better than anything you can read at times. Make sure you surround yourself with supportive and encouraging people, who can remind you of why you started in the first place. So even if you don’t read to get inspired, or hear encouraging words from someone you care about, try to find that one thing that will push you through.
We’re writers…and we’re terribly stubborn. Own it and get to writing!