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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being consistent with your writing -a 'how to' journey.

A friend of mine asked me how he could be more consistent with his writing. He's struggled with this problem as long as I've known him as I imagine most writers do.

I'm speculating that the information I'm about to provide is different for everyone but, if someone can take away a piece of it and implement it into their routine -I'll call it a success.


I understand SOME of you don't have the luxury of scheduling the same time every day because, for example, you may work different shifts on different weeks, which really screws things up.  For those folks my advise is this: Determine how long you are going to write.  Block off that time BEFORE your shift.  By the time you get home you'll be too tired, disoriented and distracted to bother sitting down and trying to write.  There is ALWAYS an excuse at the end of the day for not writing.  Tackle it before the day starts. I get up at 4:30 to make time to write before work -it wasn't easy at first but it's become a habit (21 days in a row make a habit) and I look forward to that time -I'm usually up before my alarm clock ready to go! (really)

So, like all things that require consistency in order to succeed, a scheduled time will give you the best shot.

Step 2: Create the optimal environment.

This doesn't mean you have to drive up to your cabin in Maine every time you want to write.  Deal with what you have.  You need to be alone! No TV, no kids, no spouses or other miscreants wandering hither and tither while you're trying to create.  Find your space. Close the door.  Lock if necessary. Since my doors and walls are not soundproof, I wear noise canceling headphones.  Check THESE bad boys out.

  Yep they're expensive but I'm sitting here typing away while my daughter is watching Billy The Exterminator not fifteen feet away (we have guests so I've been booted from my office) and I can't hear anything but the soundtrack from Lost. I always listen to instrumental scores while I'm writing -no distracting lyrics!

I bet this guy doesn't get bothered!

Step 3: Set a goal!

Any goal that is attainable, trackable and makes sense for the project you're working on.  If you're writing a novel, 1000 words a sitting is a good place to start.  Keep a log tracking your progress.  Look at it EVERY DAY. Feel good about yourself when you hit your goals every day for a week.  Consider handcuffing yourself to your desk chair if you don't.

Hold yourself accountable.  Tell others what you're doing so they can provide the necessary support -an 'atta boy' or a swift kick in the behind. Post your progress on facebook, twitter, your refrigerator, wherever just don't hide what you're trying to accomplish or you won't get the reinforcement you need.

Step 4: Do it EVERY DAY

It's thanksgiving.  Am I writing?  Yes I am.  I've already spent over an hour editing my manuscript as well.  Am I a bit too hard-core? Perhaps.  Regardless, when you first start out, you MUST write EVERY DAY for at least 21 days in a row -remember that whole 21 days to make a habit thing?


Sorry about the negativity, but it's true.  There will come a day where you will get sick, someone will run over your mother-in-law or you simply sleep in and miss your writing time.  Don't get upset, think it's the end of your writing career or fall into a state of depression.  It happens to EVERYONE.  Dust your butt off and get back in the chair the following day.  The key is, keep writing.

On that note, I've got ten minutes to dress, dress my daughters and get them to the Turkey Trot.  Best of luck!  I'd love to hear the tools/tricks you use to stay consistent (That means comment!)

keep writing!

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