Set A Specific Writing Time To Avoid Procrastination


By Jennifer Blanchard

If you’re like me, you tell yourself almost everyday “I’m going to write today.” And then you find 300 other things to do that are just “so much more important,” like cleaning the bathroom, washing the laundry, picking up after your kids, etc. And then you never end up getting around to writing. And then you feel guilty for the rest of the day/night/week.

But what you don’t realize, is that by saying “I’m going to write today,” you’re setting yourself up for failure. Especially if you’re a procrastinator.

When you tell yourself you’re going to “write today” or that you’re going to spend “the day” or “the weekend” writing, you’re bombarding yourself with having to write, which makes you feel overwhelmed, and then you look for a million other excuses not to write.

To get writing done, instead of saying “I’m going to write all weekend,” tell yourself “I’m going to write for two hours on Sunday.” By setting a specific day and amount of time, you are not only giving yourself freedom to do the other things you have to do (like walk the dog, bake a cake…you get the idea), but you’re allowing yourself freedom to write without feeling bombarded by it.

Give it a try this weekend. Choose a day and an amount of time, then when that day comes, sit down and spend that much time writing. That’s it. No more, no less.

I’m going to try it this weekend as well. Be sure to come back and let me know how it goes for you!

Believe! Proof You Can Get Published At Any Age

“There will be times on this journey, all you’ll see is darkness, but out there

somewhere light finds you,if you keep believing,” –Anonymous

 

I came across this article today about a 19-year-old girl who wrote her first novel at age 14 and is now having it published. Just a small reminder for all of us that it can happen, no matter how old we are.

 

Read the article here: The Daily Mail.

Never Give Up On Your Writing Dreams

“My mind tells me to give up, but my heart won’t let me,”–Anonymous

Many writers can identify with that quote above. Especially writers who’ve been rejected a lot, and writers who procrastinate to the point where they wonder why they’re even dreaming anymore.

Recently, I’ve had a few people make me feel like my writing dreams are impossible. And for a minute I started to think, maybe they’re right. Maybe this is something that will never happen for me. And then I tell myself to ignore them, stay positive and keep dreaming.

Sure, it’s really difficult to chase a dream and to keep on feeling like no matter what you do or how hard you work, you’re never going to get there. All writers understand this feeling (and actually, all dreamers understand this feeling, too!).

But you have to push through it. You have to keep on trying and, especially, keep on believing.

You have the power to make all your writing dreams come true. You just have to be willing to stand up to those who put you down and to look negativity in the face and say, “I’m doing it whether you like it or not.”

Because there will always be someone around who wants to knock you down. There will always be an editor who hates your work. There will always be a publisher who rejects you.

But if you believe in yourself, and keep on writing and keep on dreaming, eventually, you will get there. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

So whenever you feel like you’re losing your nerve, remember this: Critics didn’t put you here, so they can’t take you down.

5 Steps to Reaching the Writing Finish Line

“No matter how long it takes, if you keep moving,
you will reach the finish line,”-anonymous

 

Every writer, no matter what writing project they’re working on, has a goal in mind. A personal “finish line” they are trying to reach.

 

But for many writers, that finish line is so far in the distance they can’t quite see it (or even imagine reaching it).

 

Procrastination is a silent, but deadly killer. Well, deadly to your writing anyhow. Luckily, there’s a way to transform yourself from procrastinating writer to completed writer. And according to Cynthia Morris, author of the eBook “Cross the Finish Line! 5 Steps To Leaping Over The Hurdles to Completion,” it only takes 5 steps:

 

1) Identify your Motivation–start by answering the question: “What is important about becoming someone who finishes?” Understanding your motivation for wanting to write/work on your writing project is the way to align yourself with your personal finish line.

“A single affirmation or reminder of your commitment can do a lot toward achieving the finishing line,” Morris says. “Develop your own version of the Little Red Engine’s mantra: ‘I think I can, I think I can!'”

2) Commit to a Project–Oftentimes writers take on more projects than they can handle and end up not finishing any of them (I’m extremely guilty of this!). Morris suggests narrowing down where you will focus your time and energy. One way to do this is to make a list of all the writing projects you’d like to complete at some point. Go thru and number the list in order of importance to you. Then (no matter how difficult it may be) choose one or two projects to focus on, and put the rest on the back burner until you’re finished with your first couple projects. Although this may seem difficult, it’s the only way to ever become a finisher. Taking on too many projects at once will cause you to get overwhelmed.

 

3) Build Structure–deadlines, timelines and accountability will help you to stay on track toward the finish line. So the best way to become a finisher is to set a deadline for finishing your writing project (or mini-deadlines for a longer project like a novel) and stick to it.

 

“Your inner saboteur will pipe in with notions like ‘I’m not a deadline person,’ or ‘Lists don’t work for me,’ Morris says. “Take this as normal resistance that surfaces when you try something different. Sometimes creative people think they need to be free and flexible, but the truth is that structure allows creativity to flow.”

 

4) Stay on Track–figuring out your motivation, committing to a project and setting a schedule are the three most important steps to becoming a completer. Morris says that you must stay on track if you’re ever going to become a completer.

 

“Don’t flirt with your other ideas once you’ve committed to go all the way with one,” she says. “You’ll need to develop your creative stamina, hone your emotional intelligence, and stay connected to all the previous reminders about why you’re doing your project and what’s your payoff for finishing.”

 

5) Acknowledge and Celebration Completion–Morris says this step is an important part of the process, but is often overlooked. Writers start to get more motivated once they complete a project, so they usually just move on to the next one without taking some time out to celebrate their accomplishment.

 

“Before you pop the cork on the champagne bottle, take some time to acknowledge what it took to get here,” Morris says. “Take the opportunity to learn about your creative style and what it takes to bring your projects to fruition. Acknowledging and celebrating will help you build confidence to complete future projects.”

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So now that you know what it takes to become a finisher, it’s time to put the process to the test. Over the next couple days, think about what your motivation is, and try to commit to a project or two. And be sure to drop me a line and let me know how it’s all going.

Need Motivation? Hire A Coach

“You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them,
but by building a fire within,” Bob Nelson

Sports teams, upon winning a big game, often thank their coach. But why? The coach didn’t even do anything…or did they?The job of a coach is to teach, mentor and motivate. And when they do this, they spark something inside that causes you to take action. That’s why a lot of people have life coaches and personal trainers and nutrition counselors. All of these people are doing, in essence, the same job–motivating you to take action and succeed. And most importantly, they care whether or not you succeed.

A writing coach is no different. Their job is to offer you insight, advice and motivation for completing whatever project you’re working on. And they’ll stick with you until the final chapter.

I just hired a writing coach of my own. She’s going to be helping me work toward completing my very first novel. And I am so excited and eager to get started!

If this sounds like an option that would help you, I suggest doing some research and finding a writing coach that you feel you can work with. A good way to do this is to interview potential coaches to find out what they’re all about. Then make your decision. Some coaches are better with certain writing styles or certain subjects, etc.

Here’s an article on “7 Questions to Ask Before You Hire A Coach,” to get you started.

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Have you ever worked with a writing coach before? How was your experience?

The Secret to the Writing Life

Brian Clark of Copyblogger.com shared his “staring death in the face” story with us the other day. He noted that right after it happened, he all of a sudden felt alive again, like he had a new shot at life. And he didn’t want to spend that life doing something that didn’t excite him or that he wasn’t passionate about. So he got rid of the old and brought in the new. And he’s much happier now.

Read his inspiring story.

Not only did Brian’s story inspire me to take a look at my life and my dreams to see that the two aren’t matching up, but it also inspired me to take action. Yesterday, I sat down for almost 8 hours and worked on plot and character development for a novel I’ve been wanting to write forever.

It’s unfortunate, but sometimes near-death experiences are the best way to really wake up and realize that you only get one life, you should be living it the way you want to.

So what do you think? Did Brian inspire you to get started on those writing projects pronto?

Why Changing Locales Will Spark Your Creativity

Yesterday I was getting ready to work on a short story I have to turn in to my fiction professor this week as part of my final portfolio. I was sitting on my couch watching TV and trying to psych myself up to get some writing done. But as I looked around my house, I noticed a hundred things that needed to be done–clean the bathrooms, mop the kitchen floor, vacuum–and that’s when I knew I would never be able to get any writing done at home. So I decided to change locales.

I went to my local Starbucks (cliche for a writer, I know!), got myself a Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino, a bottle of water and a chocolate croissant, and found a small table nestled in the corner of the room. I sat down, pulled out my laptop and an amazing thing happened.

I was able to just start writing. There was nothing to distract me from my task of writing (other than my delicious croissant, which I polished off quickly). There were no chores to do, no TV shows to watch, no people around to bother me. It was just me and my laptop.

I ended up deciding to turn the short story I’ve been working on into a novel, and I got the first chapter written yesterday at Starbucks.

Getting writing done isn’t all that difficult. It just takes some focus and dedication. I found it very useful to get out of the house for a bit. It really forced me to concentrate only on writing.

So this week, I suggest you try this method of sparking creativity out. Find your favorite place, or a place that you can go without being distracted, and go there to write. Then drop me a comment and let me know how it went. Where did you go? What, if any, distractions did you find there? How much writing did you get done? Do you think it helped you to change locales?

Two Ideas For Motivating Yourself To Write

I’m always looking for creative ways to motivate, or “trick” myself into sitting down and writing. In the last few days, I’ve learned of and come up with some ideas that I think are worth trying. Here are two ideas to get you started:

  • Write a check to someone you hate–my creative writing professor said that when he was in desperate need of finishing one of his books, he motivated himself in an extreme, but helpful, way. He got out his check book and wrote a $1,000 check to a person that he hates more than anything. Then, he gave the check to one of his good friends and told them “If I don’t have my book finished by January 1, I want you to give this to the person and tell them to cash it.” Although pretty extreme, the idea of losing $1,000–and having it go to someone you hate–is a pretty good motivational tool to get your writing done.
  • Pretend like you’re already done with it–last night while I was sitting on the couch watching Jimmy Kimmel Live and not writing, I had a moment of inspiration. I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if I just made a book cover for the book I’m trying to write and then used it to cover up one of the books I own? So I did just that. I made a mock cover for the book I’m trying to write, then I cut it apart and taped it over one of my Stephen King books, making it look like I wrote the book. Then I placed it on my coffee table so that I could look at it all the time. I figured seeing my name “in print” would make me more likely to sit down and actually write the book.

So take a few minutes this weekend and try one of these motivational tactics out. Which one motivated you the most? And how much writing did you get done because of it? Got any motivational ideas of your own? Drop me a line and let me know!

How To Stop Thinking and Start Writing

One of the main ideas discussed in this blog is how to actually sit down and start writing. It seems like every writer I know is better at it than I am. In fact, I sometimes even feel a bit jealous of my writer friends who are actually writing.

The good news is: we’re not alone! Lots of writers feel this way.

Take Jane Northcote, for instance. She recently wrote her first book, started a blog, and she also wrote an amazing guest post on Copyblogger (yes, I love this site!) called “Getting Writing Done: How to Stop Thinking About It and Start Writing.”

Here are the 7 steps she recommends all writers follow–or at least those who are finding it hard to sit down and write:

1) Remember why you’re writing, and write it down first–Jane says that if you remind yourself about what the chapter/article/paper you’re writing will do for you (get you a good grade in school, impress your boss, get you a publishing deal, etc), you will be more likely to take action and start writing.

2) Stop using energy thinking about it and just do it–This one’s self-explanatory.

3) Remember the actions are finite–Once it’s done, it’s done!

4) Ask someone to manage you–This step works especially well for me personally. I have a good friend in California who is also a writer, and her and I check in with each other once a week to make sure we’re staying on top of our writing projects. Having someone to monitor my progress makes me a lot more focused because, as you all know, writing is a solitary task, so having a friend to lean on every once in a while makes life (and writing!) so much easier.

5) Tell a large number of people you’ll do it–The idea behind this one is not wanting to disappoint people. If you tell a large number of people that you’re going to have such-and-such written by a certain date, then they will not only hold you accountable, but you will most likely hold yourself accountable, as well.

6) Find something you enjoy and treat yourself–writing is a lot easier to handle when you’re doing it somewhere that you enjoy, like your favorite Starbucks location or from your front porch swing. You get the idea…

7) Do nothing else–Also self-explanatory!

And, actually, Jane’s post inspired me to stop thinking and start writing. I’ve recently begun the planning/proposal stages of a non-fiction book about writing.

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How about you? What are you currently working on? Or if you can’t seem to get started, what’s holding you back?

Procrastinator’s Secret Weapon: A Writer’s Notebook

This is advice from the blog, Daily Writing Tips. The author says about keeping a writer’s notebook: “If you’ve ever had aspirations towards fiction-writing, you’ve doubtlessly heard the advice to keep a notebook on you at all times, to jot down those elusive flashes of brilliance that come at the most inopportune moments. It’s definitely a good idea to have pen and paper to hand as much as possible – however, the discipline of keeping a writers’ notebook means more than just scribbling a few words when inspiration strikes.”
Here’s a sum-up of the post—

Get in the habit of writing everyday by:

  • Writing first thing in the morning
  • Spending five minutes writing at some point in the morning, and five minutes in the afternoon
  • Writing just before going to bed
  • Jotting down some notes before starting on your (professional) writing session of the day

The authors say, “If you’re going to stick with writing fiction long-term, it needs to become part of your daily life.”

Here are some topics the authors write about in their notebooks:

  • To-do lists for writing sessions or writing days
  • Brainstorming for competition entries
  • Character sketches
  • Plot outlines
  • Snatches of dialogue
And, of course, if you’re interested in reading the entire thing, check it out here:

Keeping a Writer’s Notebook. 

I’ve kept a writer’s notebook for as long as I can remember. I usually have a few going at one time, actually (one for my purse, one for next to my bed, one in the living room with all my fiction stuff).

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Do you currently keep a writer’s notebook? If so, how is that going for you? If not, are you going to start keeping one now? Why or why not?