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 ?!