How To Avoid Becoming A “One Day” Writer

By Jennifer Blanchard
Back when I was preparing for NaNoWriMo, I read “No Plot? No Problem!” by Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing Month, and he mentioned something in the book about not being a “one day” writer. And what he said is so profound, I felt the need to share it with you.
[As a sidenote, if you are interested in participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo, but aren’t sure what to write about, check out Baty’s book. It’s loaded with great information about how to get from day one to day 30 with a completed manuscript. It’s definitely a NaNoWriMo first-timer must-read!]
In Baty’s book, he says:

“Outside of writing classes, we never quite get the professional-grade push we need to tackle big, juicy, creative projects like novel writing….We’re slammed at work and busy at home…there’s barely enough time in a day all our mandatory obligations, so optional activities like novel writing, journaling, painting or playing music…are invariably left for another day…which is how most of us become ‘one day’ novelists. As in, ‘One day, I’d really like to write a novel.’ Problem is that that day never seems to come, and so we’re stuck.”

I’m sure we can all attest to what Baty is saying. It’s hard to find time for the things you want to do because there are so many things you need to do that come first. But in order to avoid being a “one day writer,” you need to find time–fifteen minutes a day, whatever–to get your writing done. (This is yet another reason why NoNoWriMo is such a great invention. It gives you a 30-day deadline in which to complete a 50,000-word novel.)

And actually, that’s the main way to going to get your novel written–by setting a deadline. I know I talk about this pretty often, but it’s a major factor in being a novelist, especially if you’d like to eventually write fiction for a living.

So to get you started on the path to no longer being a “one day writer,” here are 3 tips:

  • Set a Deadline–Since I just mentioned this, I thought I’d reiterate it. Although it’s sometimes difficult, setting self-imposed deadlines and meeting them will get you on writing faster (and better) than any other thing.

And don’t forget to reward yourself. If you hit a deadline–whatever it may have been–reward yourself. Take the day off from work and get a pedicure, go buy that new book you’ve wanted to read, get yourself something from your Amazon wishlist, anything that will make you feel rewarded and special, which will make you want to keep writing.

  • Step Away from the TV–If you’re going to get your writing done, you need to make time to write, which starts with blocking out all distractions. And a good distraction to eliminate first is the TV. Without even realizing it, TV has taken over much of our free time.For example, the other day I got an e-mail from a writer friend. She was talking about how she “really wants to write her book, but can’t find the time.” So I asked her, how much TV do you watch each night and she said, “Oh, about 4 hours.” Bingo! That’s 4 hours she could be writing.Obviously going cold-turkey on the TV time is not going to keep you away, but maybe, instead of spending 4 hours watching TV each night, cut back to 3 hours, and spend the fourth hour writing.
  • Leave Your Inner Editor at the Door–This is one of the biggest things you can do to avoid being a “one day” writer. Many times writers stop themselves from actually writing because they’re afraid it won’t be very good.This is a common fear for most writers, so don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself falling into this category. The important thing is you recognize it now and can take steps toward actually writing.One thing that I do which seems to be pretty helpful is I drew a “Turn Off Inner Editor” ‘button’ in my writing notebook. Now when I’m sitting down to write something, I first open my notebook and “push” the ‘button.’ Once I give myself permission to turn off my inner editor, I am able to write more without judgment.

So Procrastinating Writers…what say you? Are you ready to become a writer, rather than a “one day” writer?

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