Writing is simple, or so we like to tell ourselves. You just put a pen to the paper, or fingers to the keys and yet... when we look back at the days that we haven't written, sometimes... we feel embarassed to call ourselves writers at all. The reality is that life will always throw us curveballs and at different points in time there will be things that take precedence over our passions... but then there are times when there isn't... and we still don't write. So how do we overcome that? I think these 8 tips can help you out.
1. Just Write
I know, that seems pretty obvious, right? Well, maybe. But let's take it a step further. A lot of the time, we don't get writing done because we fail to actually start. More often than not it's the thinking and musing about writing that makes us anxious. Even long time, well established, veterans sometimes get caught up in this state, which usually leads to procrastination and thus getting nothing done. The reality is, once you start writing, that feeling quickly disperses. Then, when you come back and do it again and again, it's easier to ride off of that momentum. So yes, first off, just write.
For one to write, one must also read. Indulge in the kind if product you want to put out. This means if you are a journalist specializing in comic book think pieces, then it's best to identify your favorite comic book journalists and read their work. If you are high fantasy writer, read some great high fantasy stories. Also, remember to read outside what you're comfortable. Gain knowledge in other realms. You may be surprised by what intrigues you. You can learn from experience, but without drawing from the experience and work of others, you will also be stunting yourself. Reading good work will inspire you to want to write. So to write every day, make it also a habit of yours to read every day.
3. Set Priorities
One of the major reasons that writers don't get writing done consistently is because we don't consider it something important enough to prioritize or we prioritize it below so many other things on our mental "to-do" lists that we never get around to it. We will never get any real writing done if we don't make writing important to us through conscious action. First of all, those mental lists need to be made physical. Write them down. Use a note or list app. Then, on those lists, if your other tasks aren't related to health, household, family, or school, then writing should come before it. Try it.
4. Set a Quantifiable Goal
This goes hand in hand with prioritizing. People who are serious about completing difficult tasks, set goals for them. The best kind of goal is one that is quantifiable and time sensitive. For example, "I will complete my 50,000 word novel by May 31st" is a quantifiable goal. But that goal might seem overwhelming, or perhaps so distant that we don't think to much on it, and so it's important to break that goal into smaller ones. Because that date is about two months away, you may give yourself daily smaller goals that read "I will write 900 words a day, minimum" to ensure that you actually reach that goal. And if that seems too overwhelming, then push the larger goal further back and make your daily goal smaller. Remember the objective here is to write consistently- that doesn't mean you have to burn yourself out to do it. Perhaps you can start with 200 words, or 30 minutes a day, and see what works for you. Check out the slideshow I created for setting goals in 2019.
5. Write Something Else
So, maybe your reason for not writing is that you were writing, but then you got stuck on a particular part of your story that claiming the, nefarious, elusive writer's block as the exclusive reason that you aren't writing. Put it down, and pick something else up. Write that instead. There is always something else to work on. There is always another story or article to write and you have no excuse for not writing those things. When you story hop it allows your mind to take a break from that particularly annoying mental knot without turning off your writing brain completely. I promise the knot will loosen when you aren't thinking about it. And sometimes the other writing that you're doing can lead to breakthroughs in the story you're having trouble with.
6. Take Breaks
That's right. Turn off your writer's brain completely. Every once in a while instead of hopping to the next story, just stop. Take an hour, or take a day even. Writing can be stressful and sometimes it should be, but only moderately. Remember, you aren't prioritizing this over your health. Now, this doesn't mean to take a week every time it gets tough, but this does mean that sometimes it's good to just take a day off. That may be once a week or once a month depending on the person. When you are breaking the best thing to do is read, or watch something with a good story. Or you can do something that doesn't involve story at all. Play a game. Exercise. Do whatever- but take a real break. Come back fresh later.
7. Keep Notes
When you are plotting, brainstorming or just out walking about and a thought related to your story hits you... Write. It. Down. Too often I hear writer's say "It's all in my head." It's not. Not unless you have an eidetic memory. It may have all come to your head at different points in time but it's not all in your head all the same time. You will lose information, sometimes important bits of information... If you don't write it down. Writing notes and keeping what I like to call a "Story Bible" keeps your mind clear and at ease. You don't have to worry about forgetting anything because you've recorded it somewhere. Furthermore, when you take notes and you run into one of those days where you feel stuck, you can start your writing sessions by diving into those notes, studying them, adding to them, and eventually your writing brain will prompt you to write something.
8. Organize Your Notes
Before, I mentioned the idea of the "Story Bible." While I won't go fully into the details of what that is in this post I will tell you that the Story Bible is how you take your notes and organize them into something legible. Give yourself headings of sorts, like "timeline" or "plot directions" and start to categorize all of your notes into these sections, whatever they may be. Stories often come to us as amorphous mental clouds. This will turn it into something more concrete. When you have a foundation to which you can return, writing becomes a little more easily.