Write, write, write. And then write some more.
That’s been the vibe around here lately. I’m working on getting the first draft of my next book done and, I’ve got to be honest with you, it’s taking its toll.
Most days, I’m good. Raring to go and by the time I get the chance to put the words on paper, the sentences are popping out of my head. It’s a joy to get them down, but then, some days, I’m just not feeling it. Like today, and it’s those days that are the worst.
I slept badly last night, I’ve got a slight headache and it’s cold here. It’s snowing (in March!) And all I want to do is curl up with a book and maybe take a nap.
But here’s the thing: you can only be a writer if you write. I know I have to write a bit every day or this book will never get finished.
I wrote about what you need to remember before you start writing, but what about when you don’t feel like writing?
Those times when you’d rather chew broken glass than sit in front of a keyboard? Here’s what I do to trick myself out of procrastination.
Go someplace else
For me, a change of scenery is the most effective way to get me writing.
I usually work on my laptop, at home. I don’t have a home office, so basically I go where the rest of my family aren’t – the bedroom, dining room, living room, anywhere that they’re might be a bit of peace. And although it’s really convenient, it also means that it’s super easy to procrastinate.
Because I don’t have a writing office, it’s not like I have it all set up. I can go to the bedroom, for instance, and be confronted with the laundry, and suddenly it’s super important that I get that done instead of writing.
However, if I take myself off to a cafe, or the library, or just anywhere out of the house, the top of a hill even, I get stuff done. The gathering of my notes, the deciding where to go, the booting up of my laptop and knowing I’ve only got a few hours to write works wonders.
Get a timer
My sister bought me a sand timer for Christmas and I use it when I’m really stuck. It’s only for fifteen minutes, so I know it’s not long, and I set myself a small scene to write in that time. Usually, by the time the fifteen minutes has passed, I’m well into the scene and can write for much longer.
It’s the not wanting to start that puts me off I think, the inner critic, the judgemental voice that I can’t shut up. Using the timer seems to get rid of the voice for some reason and gets me working. I trick myself into by thinking, ‘it’s only for fifteen minutes, I can write for fifteen minutes,’ and if it works for me, it’ll probably work for you. Try it.
Plan the scene
I didn’t used to do this until recently and I wish I’d known about this small tip before.
In fact, now I think about it, I might write a whole separate blog post about this and how valuable it can be. But basically, plan out what you want to write, before you write it.
Get it straight in your head way before you hit any button on the keyboard. Sketch it out: the characters, their motivation, what happens, everything that you need to include in that scene.
It takes away the fear of what you’re writing and also gets the narrative clear, making the whole job less daunting.
I tend to do most of this when I’m doing menial tasks, like cooking or cleaning. I plan out the next scene in my head then, when it comes to my writing time, I know exactly what I’m going to write about. These past few days, I’ve not had time to do this, so I’ve had to sit down with a notebook, but it works. And, it makes your writing time much more productive.
Imagine the end result
This one is a little woo-woo, but stay with me. When I struggle to find the motivation to write, usually, I find it’s because I’m relying on my will power and that, for whatever reason, is lacking.
However, if I use my imagination, it has a different result.
So, as I’m currently writing a book, I imagine what the end result is. A finished draft, a document to send to my editor and that propels me forward.
A subtle shift in attitude is sometimes all it takes, so don’t think about why you must write, or how crap it is if you don’t write, think instead about what it’ll feel like when you’ve done the writing. What you’ll have to show for it and what you’re going to do with it.
I find that I need rewards as I go along. So, for instance, my reward today for writing a scene was to spend ten minutes on Instagram, scrolling through stories mindlessly. (That’s my new favorite thing to waste time. Just stories it seems, anyone else do that?) Then, back to it.
Your reward can be anything but a word of caution, I used to have an edible reward but it got to the point where I was eating a whole packet of biscuits a day, so choose your reward carefully. Allow yourself procrastination time, but keep it to a set time only allowed when your writing for that day is done.