How to Write Every Day

A better title for this post would end with a question mark.  I recently opened my novel manuscript and found that it had been three weeks since I last touched it.  Short stories?  Not looking much better.  The blog?  Haven’t touched it for a week.  Even my comps documents have fallen victim to Procrastination.  The piece of writing advice that suits my can-do philosophy best is “read a lot and write a lot.”  But I seem to be doing more of the former than the latter.

Today’s post will explore the many reasons why writing schedules can fall behind and ways to rectify this situation.  Many things can cause a writer to fall off the horse: some writers may suffer from a lack of ideas or writer’s block; my problem seems to be a lack of motivation.  Self-motivation, or internal motivation, consists of those inspirational speeches you give yourself when feeling lazy.  Whether you are the Little Engine That Could (I Think I Can, I Think I Can) or go on the rewards system (two more pages, and I can watch “Gilmore Girls”!), self-motivation can be a great tool if practiced regularly.  I’m terrible at it.
IMHO, external motivators, aka deadlines, are much more effective than internal motivators.  Deadlines often go hand in hand with Bad Things.  If you miss a deadline, you get in Trouble.  Simple as that.
One way to combat a lack of internal motivation is to merge it with external motivation.  Self-imposed deadlines (aka, a writing schedule) give the impression of urgency when you don’t have anything due.  My writing schedules tend to be vague yet precise (write 500 words! Every day!  Or When I Feel Like It!).  They often lead to the type of Procrastination described at the beginning of my post.
Just like runners create training plans to plan for a race, writers create schedules to complete big projects.  Every mile ran will help the day of the race, just like every paragraph or page written gets you closer to your goal.
The problem with self-imposed writing deadlines is that they rarely have the same consequences as external deadlines.  If I miss a self-imposed deadline, I only let myself down, which is more likely to send me into a Hate Spiral than to encourage me to get up and write the next day.
I am told that writing groups are a great cure-all for the Procrastination Station.  But I have not found one as yet that is suited to my particular writing habits (namely, one that takes place in my living room at 8 PM).  I’m too broke to apply to writing contests, and most journals have rolling deadlines. Comps has been a great motivator because it is the Ultimate Deadline, but April 1 has loomed so long on my calendar as That Date Sometime In the Future that it’s a bit frightening to think that it’s only a month away.  31 days.  Tomorrow it will be 30.
So I end my post with a question mark rather than an exclamation point.  Or both.
How to Write Every Day ?!
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6 thoughts on “How to Write Every Day

  1. Neurotic Workaholic says:

    I have not been able to write every day, because with my schedule it's just not always possible. I do try to view my fiction writing as a job, but sometimes that job has to go on the back burner when I have work for my paying jobs to do. For example, when I'm teaching I always have a stack of papers to grade, and it can definitely be said that students are good motivators because they're always anxious to get their grades back right away. So in that sense I'm able to meet my deadlines for teaching (most of the time) because I'm held accountable for them. But with fiction writing it's harder. I think that you don't necessarily have to write every day, but you could just aim for a certain number of pages or words each week. That way if you have more time to write on one day than another day, you could still get those pages done.

  2. Misha says:

    I wish I could help. But I can't write everyday because I lose……………….Oh wait! I lose concentration. šŸ˜‰

  3. Laura Campbell says:

    I work with self-imposed deadlines. They suck! I'm more likely to push aside a schedule I've created rather than someone else's. And just like you, I drag myself around the house in a "I'm terrible" bubble when I don't meet them. Perhaps, instead of finding a writer's group that will meet in your living room, you find a writing buddy online. You both keep each other focused and motivated by holding one another accountable for weekly words written.

  4. Amateur Reader says:

    I was not writing every day – not writing at all. I started the blog, set a goal of posting every weekday, and then somehow, did it. Have done it for over three years. I don't know why this worked when other tricks and goals did not.If only there were something helpful in what I just wrote. I don't see it.

  5. Anna says:

    Thanks for the encouraging words everyone. It's nice to know I'm not alone with this struggle. I like the idea of weekly (versus daily) words written and/or the online writing group. AR, I applaud you for working on the blog steadily for three years. Here's to fighting the good fight!

  6. Ghenet says:

    It's not possible for me to write everyday because I work full-time but I schedule writing time as often as I can. I just talked about this in my post today about writing with a full-time job. I agree with Laura about finding a writing buddy online. Having someone to hold you accountable might help. Also, if you always do something specific to procrastinate, find a way to remove the possibilty of doing that thing while you write. For example, if you end up checking your email or twitter instead of writing, try writing in a notebook by hand instead of on your computer. Or disconnect your computer from the Internet while you write. Good luck!

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