10 Tips to keep on writing

I shouldn’t be interrupted out here

We all know how hard it is to keep writing. Beginning is easy. The idea is new, fresh. Ripe for writing. We can’t wait to dig in. Nothing keeps us from our new characters and our new story. Five chapters in, fifteen chapters in, maybe not so easy. And sometimes there are just so many other things that can crop up to get in the way. We don’t put them there. We wanted to write, of course we did, but the time disappeared. And when we do sit down to write, a blank page stares at us. What are we supposed to do with it?

How do you recapture the initial enthusiasm and get on with it?

Get started

  1. Get out of bed and write. This is (usually) when your motivation is highest. PJ’s are fine. Your characters won’t care if you’re not in your best bib and tucker. Just don’t get cold. You can get respectable afterwards (like you were ever going to!). Or if you’re not a morning person, sort out the best time for you and set the alarm on your phone, your cooker, whatever, to remind you to go and write.
  2. Take tea/coffee/diet coke/water/biscuits/paracetamol/band aid’s for paper cuts etc. with you to the computer. Otherwise you will feed the need to have at least one of the above as soon as you hit the blank screen.
  3. Write first. Blog, Twitter etc. only after the word count is achieved. No cheating. Or tell Twitter you will be writing in half an hour. Someone will probably bob up to ask if you’ve gone yet. (Has happened to me twice).
  4. Write on a machine that doesn’t have the internet. Disable it. Cast it to the dark side, where it belongs while you’re trying to write.
  5. Don’t read what you wrote yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. You’ll want to correct, revise and fiddle. That won’t help the word count and you’ll lose the thread of where you were going. Use your notes or that filing cabinet in your head where you keep all the chapters lined up. Or your imagination if you haven’t a clue where it’s going yet. But don’t read – get on with it.

Can I get a WiFi connection now?

And when you’re finishing your day’s writing…

  1. Break off in mid sentence. Not my tip, but a well-known ploy by some of the big writers. Even if you know how the sentence ends, especially if you know how the sentence ends, don’t write it. It gives you a head start tomorrow.
  2. Break halfway down the page. That way you won’t have that blank screen looking at you in the morning.
  3. Set a small word count for the following day. Make the word counts different each day. Days are different. You might have an idea of what the next one is going to look like. If you have a dental appointment for a root canal, a trip to the supermarket and your most un-favourite aunt visiting, chances are you will get less done than if you have a clear day with all the family out at Lego land. Be reasonable with yourself.
  4. Ring a friend and tell her/him you’ve achieved the word count. Needn’t elaborate. Just say that you’ve done it and ask after the cat. Doubtless you will be congratulated. Good. Announce it on Twitter. Shout it from the rooftop. Congratulate yourself. Hooray! You need this validation that you are a writer and you have done well.
  5. Give yourself a treat. An artist’s date, a walk in the park, a bubble bath, two chocolate biscuits, whatever is your bag. And tell yourself if you can do it today, you can do it tomorrow.

Any other thoughts?

What about you? What keeps you going after that initial buzz of the beginning? Do you have any tips on keeping on with the writing?



26 responses to “10 Tips to keep on writing

  1. What I find is odd is that it’s when I’m most busy and preoccupied with other things that I feel I have to write. It’s as if I have to approach it sideways on, almost …. Give me a totally free calendar, and I’d probably just doodle all day. I’m weird, I know πŸ˜‰
    Sorry I don’t have any useful tips to add. But this was very interesting.

    • Not weird at all. I find I’m exactly the same. And not just with writing. This felting and stuff I’m supposed to be doing for the exhibition – I have to slide it in around other things. I have had loads of time to prepare, but no, I wait until the last minute and then I’m screamingly busy.

  2. What about editing?
    It’s never a problem for me to sit and write. The editing on the other hand……

  3. What tips might you have for someone who just started a 3rd shift job? The sleeping schedule is so erratic and while I have less of a social life now than I did in high school, it seems to be an even fuller schedule than back in those days.

    I personally find the more tired I am, the more inspired I am to write. This can actually be a bit of a hassle sometimes.

    • As a confirmed insomniac, I do know where you are coming from.
      If you’ve only just started the job, you may find sleep patterns settle down, but not necessarily. Not sure why the best ideas occur as soon as my head hits the pillow.
      Only tips I can offer are: sleep when you can for as long as you can.
      Keep notebooks by the bed, in the car, and anywhere else you can think of and use them. Journeys to work are often good places to iron out characters and scenes, quickly jot down info when you reach destination.
      Hope this post won’t offend you, but you might like to take a look at https://patwoodblogging.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/7-tips-for-writing-and-snacking/
      And thank you for coming by and taking time to comment.
      Happy writing – and sleeping! πŸ™‚

  4. Setting a different word count for each day is brilliant and something I hadn’t thought of–I will definitely try it and see how it goes. Thanks for posting Pat!

  5. Great tips honey, especially good for Nano πŸ™‚


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  7. “Getting started #5” I usually scan the last paragraph just to pick up the direction the piece is going, then I follow that path – until it branches.

  8. Pingback: Why I Write | The Written Blit

  9. Pingback: On setting word count targets | Emily's Tea Leaves

  10. Pingback: 10 Writing Tips from the Biggest and the Best | patwoodblogging

  11. Having fallen off the regular daily writing wagon, this is inspirational. Thanks!

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