Writing has always been a dream of mine. Sound familiar? Many of us long to share our experiences, creativity, and knowledge with others. I never could balance teaching with writing, and when the opportunity came, I left the classroom. I’ve written two drafts of my first novel, but I still have a long way to go.
The funny thing about discipline is that it relies on setting priorities. I have not made my novel a priority, so I am not surprised it’s not finished yet. Given what I know about how to develop writing discipline, I’d say I need to reassess where I am on my writing journey. Knowledge is one thing. Application is another matter entirely.
#1 Accept Imperfection: In order to get words on the page, condition yourself to accept the art of writing badly. A Nora Roberts quote I saw on twitter the other day says it best, “You can fix a broken page. You can’t fix a blank one.” Revise later or you risk breaking the flow of creation.
#2 Create a Writing Space: You deserve a space that is just for you and your writing activities. The couch might be comfy, and the dining room table convenient, but carve out a spot for a small desk if you don’t have room for a full home office. Mark your territory!
#3 Invite Criticism: Seek out those who can help you. The act of writing is a lonely process, but ultimately you are writing for readers, so their input matters greatly once you have a draft that’s ready to share. Same goes for blogs. Utilize libraries, universities, co-workers, family, or find a critique group via the internet.
#4 Make Deadlines: This goes beyond an achievable word count. Given the scope of your book, how long will it take to draft? How many re-writes do you envision? How long will it take you to format it and make it available as an eBook? Always account for a learning curve.
#5 Minimize Distractions: Make an honest assessment of what puts your mind in writing mode. Music and television creates white noise for some, but not others. Avoid the temptations of social media. If possible, turn off your phone. If you get out of your chair a lot, re-focus.
#6 Track Hours: Channel your inner control freak and use a spreadsheet or notebook to track the hours you devote to writing. Draw a solid line between writing time and marketing time. Multi-tasking between the two will inevitably eat into your writing time. Don’t cook the books!
#7 Set Reasonable Goals: Ask yourself how much writing you can accomplish in the time available. Set a weekly word count for your work in progress and decide if it’s best to spread your writing throughout the week or cram it into a day or two. Also, factor in how to balance writing tasks such as blogging and social media posts that must be done to market your material.
#8 Recognize Rituals: Can you get started in the morning if the house is a mess or the bills aren’t done? If so, get that stuff done before morning. Does your desk have to be organized just so in order to feel productive? Maybe you only write with a certain type of pen. Embrace your quirks, but don’t let them bog you down.
#9 Reflect: Thinking about your productivity and actively working to develop writing habits is great, but why not keep a journal and record your thoughts about your writing journey? Or if you need a sense of community and folks to commiserate with, find a blogging community.
#10 Schedule Tasks: Even if you’re only working on one book project, pencil in a writing task for each day that goes beyond mere word count. Balancing drafting with blog posting can get hectic, so it’s best to develop an organized approach (and yes that will take time too).
I’ve really struggled with accepting imperfection. My novel just isn’t the novel I set out to write, and I’m not sure if revisions can shape it into what I want it to be. I will finish it by the end of this year (with beta feedback, etc.) and then move on. Distractions can also be an issue since I’m also working on a an eBook about my time in national parks.
Alas, we all learn different speeds and in different ways. Onward!
What would you add to the list? What strengths and weaknesses factor into your own discipline?
Pleas join me on Writer B is Me with Beth Teliho for my guest post Beyond Boring: Three Days with Professor Bland.
Permission must be granted by JeriWB to use the images in this post.
Article by Jeri Walker-Bickett aka JeriWB