I admit it: I’m a world-class writing-specific procrastinator. Want to make me productive when it comes to cleaning my house? Caulking my tub? Painting the ceiling in my bathroom? Just tell me I have to sit down and create a chapter of my book; you know, the one that in my wildest fantasies will be the next Great American Novel (the “GAN”). It won’t be The Sun Also Rises great, but I could probably accomplish something better than Simon & Shuster-published A Shore Thing by Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi.
One of the hardest things about being an author is actually writing. Believe me, I’ve made all the excuses. I have such a long commute. Because of word processing, I just edit and reedit as I go and never get anywhere. That author just published the book that I wanted to write—I would have done it, like, tomorrow, if she hadn’t just copied me, dang it. After I finish this editing project or that semester in school, I’ll have way more free time to focus on my book. As soon as, as soon as, as soon as . . . isn’t it scary how easily “as soon as” becomes a way of life?
I got to thinking about it, and I realized that I was looking at writing as a hobby, not a lifestyle. I realized that if I ever planned to create that GAN, I needed to make writing a fun part of my routine, like exercise (ahem…), or more realistically, brushing my teeth or eating really good cheese.
The life of an author is a tough one, and writers have to be impassioned to promote their books. If I can’t even be impassioned when writing it, how am I going to successfully promote it? So what are the steps to becoming impassioned? How do I go about incorporating writing into a daily lifestyle?
Here are 6 tips for making it happen:
1) Try to write while doing something fun that’s already in your daily routine. In my routine, I sit on the couch with my dog’s head on my lap and a glass of wine at the end of the day. This usually lasts anywhere from 10 minutes to 3 hours. I could be writing while I do this, making my relaxation time also a handy multitasking time. Then, I’m also associating writing with something I enjoy!
2) Don’t worry about making word counts each day. This may seem counterproductive, but in fact, having a daily word count requirement makes writing feel like a chore. Don’t take the fun away by putting up lousy limitations that are bound to make you feel like a failure when (not if) you can’t live up to them.
3) Try writing in a notebook instead of a word processor. When I write on a computer, I tend to write a paragraph, rewrite it twice, write another paragraph, then go back and rewrite the first paragraph, and so on. Being in a constant state of editorial hell stifles creation. Writing in a notebook takes the pressure off the need to be “polished,” allowing you to write without the compulsive desire to go back and fix each time you write a 3-sentence passage.
4) Have a weekly writing day/coffee with a friend. I find that if I have someone to talk to while I’m writing, I’m much more likely to get something done so that I can show it off! Plus, having plans with a friend is fun—once again, associate writing with things you enjoy doing.
5) Commit to write 3 – 4 times a week . . . not every day. If you try to do it everyday, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Commit to 3 – 4 times a week. Again, try to find ways that you can write in a fun setting; a couch, a dog, and some sort of liquor or coffee are, in my opinion, perfect creative companions!
6) Treat yourself to a writer retreat 4 times a year (or more). If you dedicate a weekend day four times a year for a writer retreat outside of your home—say at a cabin, housesitting for a friend, or a library—you’ll feel more focused and less likely to find the usual distractions that impersonate “productive” activities, such as painting the inside of your laundry chute.
Finally, if you happen to be one of those people driven by extreme goal setting (I’m envious of you), check out Writer’s Digest’s 90 Days to Your Novel, and report back!