Staying on top of your project’s progress is often a goal for a writer. It helps them create timelines and manage their workflow on both a small and broad scale. To do that you must understand what consistent writing means to you, and then you can use these tips to become a more consistent writer.
Tip #1 Stop worrying about the final product. Worry about your next thousand words.
Writers can get caught up with the publishing process before they’ve even written the first words of their manuscript. If you’re a worrier like me, the best way I combat this is by focusing on my next small-batch task, which is usually the next chapter in my manuscript.
Writing is just one step of the process, after which there’s revising and editing and more revising, and eventually beta readers and the professional editor. It’s a long process, especially for newer writers, so it’s important to focus only on the next batch of words you want to write.
The first draft is sometimes affectionately referred to as the rough draft, because it will likely see at least a few rounds of revisions and probably a handful of rewrites. Entire scenes will be moved around or face the chopping block, and you’ll write new scenes to replace them.
Throughout this process, your story will slowly come together and reveal itself, but it takes time and patience. Now, the rest of these tips for consistent writing will help you navigate your next string of words.
Tip #2 Create a schedule for your writing goals and create sustainable habits
Setting the perfect writing routine only works if it is the perfect writing routine for you. Meaning, you cannot simply replicate someone else’s routine and instantly expect it to work for you. That is called jumping the gun.
People who have healthy and sustainable writing routines create them over trial and error. If you simple copy their routine, you aren’t giving yourself the same opportunity to trial what truly works for you and you’re often only left with the error. Which manifests itself as broken promises.
Now, writer, these are a snapshot of the things you want to consider when creating your writing goals:
- How often will I write? Will I write everyday or once or twice a week for longer stretches of time?
- What time of day will I write? Do I need to adjust my schedule to get up earlier or stay up later?
- What distractions can I identify now that may inhibit me from accomplishing my goal?
- Knowing these possible distractions, what can I do to avoid them?
- How will I organize my time and schedule and keep track of my goals?
No matter what your plan looks like, know you need to create tangible goals that you can stick to. Not something someone else does, but goals that reflect the time you are able to commit to working toward them.
Progress is key to continued motivation and one aspect of goal setting is to create smaller, more manageable goals you know you can accomplish in the time frame you’ve allowed.
For example, if you write an average of 250 words per hour, do not make a goal to write 2,000 words. The only exception is if you’re trying to increase your daily word count, in which case you should increase your goal by small increments.
Tips #3 Write what you love, even if the market appears overly saturated
To stick with something massive, like writing a 90,000-word manuscript, you have to enjoy it. Simple as that. If you do not enjoy something about your project, it will show in either your writing or your overall motivation to complete the first draft.
Maybe you’re excited by an idea but you haven’t even written the first word yet. Maybe you are bogged down with the outlining.
While I endorse learning how to outline your book and using some form of story structure to guide your story’s plot, that by no way means you have to spend years to formulate just the right story before you start writing your novel.
Like the saying goes: It’s often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.
Which I loosely interpret as: It’s easier to write the story now and edit it through the roof later.
Tip #4 Eliminate distractions and disengage yourself from other tasks while writing
Writers, I get it. Some writers need distractions, like music or television or other background noise to concentrate.
But when you’re stuck in a slump and not being the consistent writer you want to be means something needs to change. One of the first things I do is completely disengage from other projects or tasks I had planned.
If I’ve been in a writing slump and want to write more words, I clear my schedule and focus solely on the writing. Not social media or blog posts or anything else that may distract me from my goal, which is the writing.
Not only does this often reaffirm good writing habits, but it also forces me to push passed whatever the slog was. Which, for me, is often a chapter I’m less than thrilled about writing, often brought on by a lack of outlining.
Tip #5 Make consistent writing fun by incentivizing yourself to accomplish more
Sometimes work isn’t fun, but if you’re doing something you love, there must be some enjoyment you get from it, right? That’s why sometimes we need a little something extra to get us through out next writing milestone.
For me, this is usually some sort of incentive. “When I finish this, I can work on this…or I can do this…or I can buy this…”
We all have projects suffering from sagging-middle syndrome, or we have a bright, new shiny idea and we want nothing more than to dive right in.
Having multiple projects is all well and good, but we will never finish a project if we don’t stick to one. My goal is to always be working on at least two of the major phases every quarter. One writing project and one editing project. Or one nonfiction project and one fiction project. Or…you get the picture.
What gets me through writing slumps and keeps me a consistent writer is by treating myself after accomplishing goals. Smaller goals garner small rewards, but it’s something that pushes me.
For example, a consistent writing day for me means I am writing (or editing) at least 2,500 words.
Normally I wouldn’t get rewarded for a typical day, but there are times when my slumps get the better of me and it’s difficult to remain a consistent writer. During these times, I make goals that might look like “eating a cupcake” or “taking a soul-relaxing bubble bath”. Maybe if I’m finishing a rather hearty round of revisions, I’ll book a massage.
Whatever it is for you that helps you get out of your slump and persevere is what you should fill your rewards list with.
If writing is your passion and you want to publish a book sometime in the future, these tips for consistent writing will help you accomplish that goal. Now it’s your turn, writer. What tips to you employ to remain consistent throughout your writing projects?
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