Monday, February 6, 2012

How To Trick Yourself Into Writing, Even When You Don't Feel Like It

So lots of writers will tell you the hardest part of being a writer, in spite of all the craziness of marketing and self-promoting and all that, is actually writing. Sitting down with the blank page and the little cursor on your Word document winking like it's mocking you.
This weekend I hit a giant wall of resistance. I had to drag out every trick in the book this weekend and then invent a few new ones to get myself writing again. So here, for your viewing pleasure, are a few Magical Tips Against Resistance.
1. I'll start off with the oldie but the goodie. It's the one that I continue to find extremely helpful: Butt In Chair. Just start typing, no matter how you feel, no matter if you feel like the most uninspired piece of crap that ever tried to write a novel. Just. Do. It.

2. Make up a treat for yourself to use as a reward for hitting your word count. This is really the trick I probably use the most. Natalie Goldberg suggests chocolate, but I wasn't in a chocolate mood this weekend, so I promised myself a new haircut. I hit word-count, and got to chop off some hair that had begun to look alarmingly like a mullet. Hitting word count + no more mullet = double win.

3. Get out of the house. Go write at a coffeeshop or cafe. There's nothing like making an Event of writing time to encourage you to actually do it and not just eat the day away by staring at Twitter or Facebook.

4. Write at unusual times. Or, in my case this weekend, drink wine, try to go to sleep, and when you can't, get up at 3am and write 800 words. There's no stress because it's the middle of the night and you don't really expect to write so there's no pressure to actually produce, and then anything you DO manage to produce is just extras, gravy on top. Which frees you to actually write! Changing it up can throw off those patterns of stress we create for ourselves. Sometimes going against routine is the best way to get the juices flowing.

5. And now to completely counteract the previous statement because everyone loves a good contradiction, routine can be a good thing! If you have a routine where you get up, drink your cup of coffee, and start writing, the actual writing sometimes comes more easily. It's not like a giant tug of war of will-I-or-won't-I-write-today. When it becomes something you just do, it can be easier to produce steady word count.

6. Do not let yourself get on the internet until you have met word count goals. Okay, I cheat on this one, but I've heard it works well for people. I tend to write three or four paragraphs, check Twitter, go back and write a few more, Twitter again, and usually somewhere in there I get usually caught up enough in the writing that I finish a scene. And then I check Twitter ;)

7. Write first thing in the morning. I haven't tried this one lately, but I've been thinking about giving it a go again, because it's true: if you get your word count out first thing, then you don't spend all day worrying about if you'll get it done or not!

8. Arrange to get together with another writing friend, not to talk, but to WRITE! I can't always get out of my house, but I've found the internet equivalent of this sometimes with #wordwars on Twitter. They've been wicked helpful on getting out word count on days when I'm not feeling it.

9. When you DO manage to hit your word count, try writing another hundred words or two before you stop. You're already in the groove, it's easier to keep going than stop and gear up again the next day. This little trick has really added up for me in the past. There's less stress for me once I've already hit word count knowing I can stop any time, it helps on other days when I can't quite make it, and it makes my novel overall come out a little bit faster.

That's all I've got for now. What are some of the tricks you use when you hit resistance?


Heather Anastasiu is the author of GLITCH (St. Martin's Press/Summer 2012) Glitch in three words: Dystopia, Superpowers, & Love :) Check out my website for more news and updates.

1 comment:

  1. Here's one I learned. It's the Freedom App. You can download it, set the timer, and it disables the internet on your computer for 1 hour, 2 hours, whatever time you select.