When I finished my University studies, I wanted to throw myself into writing, but I quickly found out that I was too mentally drained. I needed a break. That break turned into many months (yes, I know – hangs head in shame); my writing had become sporadic and I had accomplished little.
I didn’t want to admit it even to myself, that I had wasted too much time (Kristen Lamb has a recent post on this subject). I needed ways to manage my time better, come up with achievable, realistic goals and re-focus. It didn’t take long for me to realise I had a major problem with discipline.
Here are five techniques I’ve started using to help combat the issue.
1. Accountability buddy/writing group
As new writers, it’s great that we can write what we want, when we want. We are lucky that we have no boss to answer to, yet if we don’t get any writing done, we have no-one to blame but ourselves. We have to learn to be self-motivated and sometimes we could do with a little extra help. Find someone who is willing to become an accountability buddy – a fellow writer, a supportive friend or partner. I’ve made my husband my accountability buddy and ‘report in’ at the end of every week. Yes, I get the pep talk if I’ve been slack, but I also get the praise when I’m making progress. Writing groups can also be beneficial, especially those that meet regularly and set tasks for each session.
When studying for my University degree, I had numerous deadlines to meet. Once I knew when assignments were due for each subject, I planned accordingly. The closer to the deadline, the more effort I put in. As new writers, we have the luxury of not having to meet deadlines, however we can give ourselves self-imposed deadlines to make sure the writing gets done; otherwise we can slacken off. Give yourself realistic timeframes for each goal.
3. Daily Quotas
I’ve never really done well with these, which is one of the reasons why I have participated in NaNoWriMo a couple of times. Having to push yourself to reach a daily quota is very rewarding, especially when you manage to go over that quota. The more words you write, the more pages you produce (yes, starting small is still progress 🙂 ).
4. Time Yourself
Time can be the enemy for writers, even more so when you write against the clock. Use a timer to see how much you can write within a certain time frame. This also helps to determine whether you’re good at working under pressure or not.
5. Reward System
Hey, it works for kids and animals, right? Allow yourself to read that book, watch television, go on social media, or whatever it is you fancy once you’ve reached your daily quota. Treat yourself to something special when you’ve finished writing that novel draft. Every step is an accomplishment – you deserve the rewards.
Have you also struggled to get back into writing lately? Do you have a problem with discipline? What techniques do you use to make sure you get your writing done?