“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”—Cyril ConnollyOnce upon a time, you wanted to be a writer or wrote regularly. Have you wandered off the writing path? Or has the big bad wolf devoured your writing dreams? How do you begin writing or return to writing after a break or a personal crisis?
1. Review your writing progress. Where am I? Where do I want to be next year?
2. Appraise your writing goals. Don’t have any? Without setting at least one goal, the big bad procrastination wolf will swallow your writing dreams in one big gulp. Come next year, how close will you be to kick starting your writing?
3. The 5-Day / 2-Hour Writing Plan. Re-evaluate how you spend your time. Work eight hours. Sleep eight hours. Use six hours to eat, play, do bills and chores. Take weekends off. Reserve two hours five days a week to write. By the end of the month, that’s a 40-hour work writing week or 520 writing hours a year.
4. Stop talking about writing. Begin writing that novel, article or short story.
5. Write down all the reasons you procrastinate. Determine how you will overcome self-limiting beliefs.
6. Set a daily goal. Concentrate on writing for a certain amount of time or determine a word or page count. Don’t let the specter of a finished manuscript intimidate you. Break your writing projects down into small chunks.
7. Pencil in writing time on your planner. Prioritize writing in your daily To-Do list. Set aside a specific time to write. Keep your “appointment.”
8. Create a space that invites you to write. Clean up your desk. Create files where you can plop writing ideas, magazine articles or research. Find a quiet place where you can close the door. Rather than having a screaming fit at interrupters, lock the door. Turn on a fan or classical music to create white noise to block out distractions.
9. Buy a red writing hood or cape. Put on your red hat or cape. When anyone sees you wearing your red writing hood, it’s a stop sign, “Don’t interrupt me unless you are prepared to die!”
10. Force yourself to sit down and write. Position: Derriere in chair, fingers on keyboard. Once you begin, you will not want to stop.
11. Open a document and write every day. Write a few words or sentences. You’ll be surprised how much flows.
12. Set a timer. Determine how long you will write. You’ll be fifteen minutes or one hour closer to making your writing dreams come true.
13. Don’t worry about editing. Get your thoughts down on paper.
14. Write in 15-minute spurts throughout the day. Write on a work break, during lunch at work, when you wake up in the morning, or before going to bed. Whether you pump out one paragraph or two pages, at least you wrote something.
15. Write 500-1000 publishable words a day. If you write 1000 words a day you’ll have one book of 85,000-100,000 words in three or four months. If you write 500 words a day, you can crank out a book a year.
16. Keep an idea journal or file. Write down writing ideas when they hit, which could include an idea, thoughts, snippets, or even paragraphs. Don’t have an idea journal? Scribble on anything handy—journals, scraps of paper, backs of receipts. File them in a writing idea file. Look through your journal or file for inspiration.
17. Carry a writing notebook with 3-hole punched ruled sheets of paper. Write first drafts. Print out drafts that need editing. Three-hole punch the pages and place in the notebook. Edit on breaks, at lunch, while waiting in a line, or at a doctor’s office.
18. Carry a pen, paper or small notepad everywhere you go. Jot down inspired thoughts or ideas. Note overheard humorous or interesting dialogue. If you don’t write it down, you won’t remember what seemed to be so memorable.
19. Turn your words into text. Log on to http://www.jott.com. Sign up for their FREE service. Call 866-JOTT-123 on your cell phone. Speak your idea into your phone. JOTT captures your voice, turns it into text and sends it to you destination of choice: email, Twitter, Google Calendar. You can capture notes, To-Do lists, set reminders for meetings, birthdays, anniversaries, and calendar appointments.
20. Journal on paper or online. http://www.inboxjournal.com sends reminders to write.
21. Take part in online writing prompts. Writer’s Digest provides writing prompts.
22. Go to a coffee shop. Write a page or two on your laptop or in a notebook. When my children were small, I unleashed them in the McDonald’s play area so I could write.
23. Enroll in a creative writing class. Assignments force you to write.
24. Send a query letter. Snagging a paid writing gig with a deadline will boost your adrenaline and motivation to write.
25. Blog. Knowing people expect to read something will keep you accountable.
26. Enter a writing contest.
27. Work on several projects at a time. If you’re bored or develop writer’s block, move to another project.
28. Join or start your own writer’s critique group. Be accountable to others to provide one manuscript for critique each month.
29. Participate in online writer’s critique groups.
30. Start a writing improv session. Meet regularly with another writing friend. Write for one hour. Use writing prompts or brainstorm your writing topic, then write. Near the end of the hour, exchange manuscripts and provide feedback.
31. Turn off TV. Flip on your computer. Write.
32. Do not waste time online. Avoid unproductive online distractions. Ignore emails, Facebook or web surfing. Write.
33. Turn off your inner critic. Write for fun.
34. Affirm yourself. Repeat this as often as necessary, “I can write.”
35. Believe in yourself. Tell yourself, “I believe my passion is worth writing about.”