A little goes a long way. It’s true of spices when cooking, perfume on a date, and…writing habits?
Many writers think they need to pump out huge word-counts in a single session, convinced that progress is measured in pages. Unfortunately, sometimes inspiration doesn’t show up. Instead of watching the word count pile up, we see the seconds tick by and feel frustrated and humiliated. This is especially annoying when writing time can be so hard to come by.
How is anyone supposed to get a book done at this rate?
The trick is in setting small, regular goals. Like any other activity, if you write often and consistently, you will find the act of writing becomes easier.
- First, take a look at your weekly obligations; when do you have time? Try writing on your breaks, after work for fifteen minutes, on your public transit commute, or just before you go to bed. By writing on the same days each week, or at the same time of day each session, your brain will begin to gear up for those moments, and your concentration and productivity will improve. You may also find your mind is more supple at certain times of day, or that combining writing with other activities like having a cup of tea or a snack helps your creative flow. Find what works best for you and build your writing schedule.
- Secondly, be kind to yourself. Perfection doesn’t matter in a first draft; just focus on letting the words flow. Once the content is written, you can always come back and edit. You’ll also find that a small amount each day, say 200 words, adds up quite quickly—that’s 1,400 words a week! Some days you’ll write more, other days you’ll write less. This is natural. Depending on what motivates you, set your session goal either by word-count or by timer. Also set a weekly and/or monthly goal. If you have a bad day, don’t fret, you’ll likely make it up before the end of the month. Make sure your deadlines are reasonable. Writing is not a race.
- Thirdly, build a creative circle. Create a space in which is it safe to be your writerly self. Writing can be highly personal, but it’s okay to ask for help. Find writing groups in your area (or online) to connect with other writers. Talk about your writing struggles, and find out what techniques helped them. When stuck on a section of your project, your writing friends may have ideas on how to proceed. Write-ins may offer the support you need to keep on schedule. There are also apps, such as Write-o-meter, that let you set target word-counts and schedule writing days and times. Write-o-meter even includes a built-in timer, and a rewards system to keep you motivated. And if you work in the Mac ecosystem, there are apps like Wordly and Write-or-Die that have similar features.
Finally, congratulations are in order. Setting rewards can help you look forward to writing and stay encouraged to hit your deadlines. These can be as simple as getting a snack, buying yourself a new book, or planning a Finished Manuscript celebration. By getting your words down, you’ve created something new. And no one else in the world can tell your story but you.
It’s time for you to tell it, little by little.
Written by Astra Crompton, FriesenPress Publishing Specialist
Edited by Christian Fink-Jensen, FriesenPress Marketing Manager