Writing a novel is a lot like an endurance sport. You start out on a high with big dreams and lofty goals. Then you try to set up a routine and realize this is hard. Once you manage a routine (that inevitably falls apart from time to time) you have periods where you’re flying through your draft and feel great. Then you hit a hard patch and struggle to slog through another day. As the slow patch continues, doubts set in. Can I do this? Am I really a writer? What am I doing?
The truth is you have to push through the tough times just like an athlete would. However, like your athletic counterpart, you should have a plan to keep you motivated.
Here are some tips to keep you speeding to a finished novel.
Believe you can do it. Remember you are a writer and you can crush this!
Change pace. Athletes use circuit training. Do the same. If you feel stuck, switch to another project or form of writing to break up the monotony of working through your novel. Try haiku with NaHaiWriMo’s daily prompts or flash fiction. It’s hard to talk yourself out of the time investment of a short form of writing.
Break it down. If you are feeling overwhelmed break down what needs to get done into smaller goals and work toward those smaller goals.
Work with a trainer. You may be lucky enough to have a mentor as your own personal trainer, but most of us don’t. However, there are so many resources, workshops, and conferences, that can give you guidance. Some can even be done from the comforts of home.
Fake it ‘til you make it. Figure out what being an author means to you and start acting like one. Emulate those who you would like to be, but remember to pick a reasonable first step.
Get a buddy. Pushing through the slog can be hard alone. Find a writing buddy to help keep you accountable. Set check-ins and share goals. Talk through your problems. There is nothing like having someone by your side through it.
Hone in. Stick with one task for your work and complete it before moving on to the next one.
Bribe yourself. Nothing can motivate you better than you. Is there a new dress you want? New pen? Don’t pick it up until you reach a goal you have set.
Stretch your creative muscles. Do some other creative endeavor and don’t worry about how it turns out. Being creative in another medium can bring inspiration. You aren’t a painter so its fine if your “masterpiece” looks like a toddler’s finger painting.
Experience the world around you. Listen to the different tones in a gust of wind or the sound of someone walking on the pavement. Taste the air during a snowstorm. Feel how the warmth of the sun soaks through your clothes. We create worlds for others. Experience your world with purpose.
Take time to recharge. Read, watch, do whatever it takes to recharge your creative batteries. You wouldn’t run after starving yourself or not sleeping for days. Don’t let yourself write on empty either.
Laugh. Keep your good humor throughout the journey. Laughter releases endorphins and serotonin giving you a feeling of love and happiness. Why deprive yourself? Don’t rely on finding something humorous. Just laugh. There is an entire yoga practice (hasya yoga) that incorporates laughter, and if you are struggling to laugh at nothing, watch a session of laughter yoga; it might help.
Writing should bring you joy, even though it won’t always be fun. Enjoy the journey as well as the end product.
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Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG’s purpose is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
To join, simply sign up by clicking on the button below and adding your name to the linky list. Then post the first Wednesday of each month and visit your fellow bloggers to lend your support.
This month’s optional question: “How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal or finish a story?”