Writing consistently is one of the hardest facets of being a writer. It is so easy to let promo and list making, or chores and distractions, or a thousand other things… get in the way of that daily word count. It’s the roller-coaster of writing and procrastination. My goal this year is to write every day. And I do it, for 5 or 10 or 2 days in a row. And then I don’t—hitting that roller-coaster.
Sometimes the flying down time will last a day, sometimes a week or more. And the unproductive days can really add up and increase the time between books. My goal this year is overall consistency. I acknowledge that I can spend a day or two away from the stories but refuse to let it drag on longer.
One of my tools for fighting procrastination this year is having a set daily word count goal. In the beginning of a project it might be 1000 words a day, when things heat up it goes to 2500 or more. And I strive to write six days of the week. Saturday is my hold out day. My husband typically works four, ten-hour days and Saturday is the day we try and spend a little time together or work on joint projects.
In last month’s Math and Science of Writing blog I promised an update on the writing numbers. I can report that last week I wrote all six days, averaging close to 2000 words per day. So using the numbers seems to work well.
Dr Robert Boice author of, Procrastination and Blocking: A Novel, Practical Approach (1996), spent over twenty years delving into the minds of writers to find out why they are so easily distracted. One of his findings was that the procrastination was often due to, “paralyzing anxiety and uncertainty, often because the task will be evaluated publically.”
Which makes sense. I’ve found that reading my reviews can be energizing if those reviews are even remotely positive. But if they are negative and sometimes mean, then I want to go stick my head in the sand and it can take a long time to get out of the hole.
Sometimes writing is like any job, you just want to go back to bed and read instead of write. That procrastination technique is a popular one for writers. And reading can always be justified by labeling it research…
What do you do if you aren’t meeting your writing goals or doing what you need to do? I’d love to hear from anyone with ideas on beating procrastination for writing or anything. Email me at email@example.com.
Here are a few things I’ve found that can help keep me on track and writing:
Schedule the Time
I start writing at 10 am or earlier every day and work until I have at least 1000 words. If the writing is really flowing, then this is easy. If it’s a struggle, well… After an hour I will stop and witch things up. This might be a good time to work on promo projects. Then I can go back to the writing later.
I typically with write another 1000 words or more when everything has calmed down for the night. This is often my most productive time to write. I think because when I had small children, writing was always done after they were in bed.
Track the Words
I am internally motivated and so noting my daily progress on a weekly list and adding up the wordcount on Sunday works fantastic for me. If I don’t meet my weekly goal it serves to shame me into trying harder the next week.
Some people work well by having a writing buddy or group and reporting to them, and others like the more public option of posting results on a daily or weekly basis.
I have an office with a desk, a living room nook with a window that gets morning sun and has a view of trees and hummingbirds, and a table outside on my covered patio. I choose where I want to write depending on my mood. I find I write extremely well outside. I used to have a hammock that was an incredible place to write. Eventually I will find a place/way at the new house to use the hammock again. But for now, the table on the patio works well.
For the last several months my all-time favorite writing area has been the living room nook. I have a chaise lounge couch in the nook, so there is room for the dogs to lay with me, and a large window to the world so I don’t feel isolated. I also have a sunlamp for the days when it is cloudy and gray, and a heater for the coffee cup I always forget but now stays warm until I remember.
Keeping Clutter Free
I’m talking about mental clutter. It seems like every time I sit down to write I remember a dozen other things I need to do. So now I keep a notebook beside me and I jot down anything that pops into my mind. Oops… need to call the doctor. Jot it down and forget. Out of coffee, goes on the list.
This small tickler note keeps me going, without allowing me to get bogged down in other details.
My award for a weeks great writing? Reading for a couple hours or a night out. One of my strongest motivators to beat procrastination is not allowing myself to read a book until I get to a specific word count for the week. When I remain steadfast, this is a fantastic way to keep me going.
Guess what? It’s 9:56 am. I have enough time to post this and start my scheduled writing block. I hope your writing day goes as planned. Have a wonderful day!
Keep trying. There are a lot of ideas out there and one may work for you. Simply google schedule writing time for some great articles and options.