Writing & Blogging

How To Stay on Track While Writing

As any writer can probably tell you, one of the hardest things is meeting deadlines, self-imposed or agent/editor-imposed. Even if you’re fine for a couple of weeks, eventually you will start to struggle. It’s nothing to be ashamed about since every writer ever has struggled with this (apparently except for Alexander Hamilton if the song “Non-Stop” is accurate). Since I’ve been writing for, well, nearly twenty years, I’ve developed several ways to stay on track when writing, even if you have a few off days.

It's so easy to get distracted while writing or to be on top of things until you hit a rough couple of weeks. Here are my strategies to stay on top of your writing goals no matter what.

Have a plan – This plan can’t be, “Sit down and write.” It should be more specific than that, but what that plan is will depend on what kind of writer you are. If you’re the really organized type, then you might have every scene planned out or at least plans for what you’re going to write each day. If that’s not really your style, your plan might be to write 2,000 words a day or to get to a certain point in your story by a certain day. At the very least, you should have a plan of some kind in order to measure your goals and to know if you’re on track.

Designate a writing routine – I’m a big fan of routines in general, but having a writing one is especially helpful in order to transfer your brain into writing time. If you do a set of similar activities every time you write, your brain will associate that set with writing and will be ready to start writing when you do them.

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Cut yourself some slack (but not a lot) – Life happens, so if life gets in the way and it makes it harder for you to stay on top of writing, understand that. But at the same time, don’t give yourself excuses. It’s one thing if schoolwork ramps up or you get sick and it makes it harder for you to write. It’s something else if you tell yourself that you’re still recovering from being sick a week later when you’re not really recovering any more. You deserve better than half-assed excuses for achieving your goals, so while you shouldn’t make things harder on yourself if they don’t need to be, don’t let yourself get between you and your writing.

Even if you're not doing NaNoWriMo this year, if you write, you've had writing struggles. Check out these 5 tips for staying on track, even if you hit writer's block!

Prioritize your writing – Looking for something to do? Write. Bored? Write. Waiting for an appointment? Write. Skimming social media? Write. Thinking of watching a movie you’ve seen over ten times? Write instead. You get it; if you have even just thirty minutes, you can write more than if you didn’t write at all. Fifty words down is fifty words more than you had before.

Eliminate distractions – This is different for everyone. For me, I usually turn off my Wi-Fi and my cell phone and sit down with a large cup of coffee and my headphones. I listen to music that I know inspires me so that I don’t spend time searching for the right music (it was Coldplay for Aureole and Beyonce and Mumford and Sons for TLM so far). With fewer distractions, more brain power is dedicated to writing.

How do you stay on top of your writing?

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