5 Discipline Techniques for New Writers.

Hourglass_Sand_CeremonyWhen 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.

2. Deadlines
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?

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7 thoughts on “5 Discipline Techniques for New Writers.

  1. I set the goal to 960 words daily, absolutely convinced that it was easily doable and I still failed spectacularly. Somehow I manage to waste hours doing nothing. Maybe setting myself deadlines is a good idea.
    I wish I had some no-fail method to tell you but unfortunately, all I can offer is: butt in chair — hands on keyboard.

    1. Debbie Johansson 12/12/2014 — 3:24 am

      Hi barbarabarbex. I know what you mean about wasting time! I tend to spend too much of it on social media and not enough time writing. My husband tells me that’s putting the cart before the horse. I’ve recently found turning off my modem has been a huge help as I’m easily distracted. Then the butt in chair rule applies. Thanks for your comments – it’s good to know we’re not alone in this. Best of luck! 🙂

      1. I can never cheat myself with the turning off networking and stuff like that. If I can turn it off, I can easily turn it on again “I’m a grown-up, you modem don’t get to tell me what to do!”
        I know someone who uses a timer on the power outlet that turns off power to the router. I would feel so smart doing that and when the router shuts off, I would get so angry and just turn it back on!
        Cheating myself doesn’t work, I have to overcome my own inner asshole and do the fucking work that needs to be done! *slaps self on back of the head Gibbs-style*

        Sorry for venting but I’m so frustrated with my lazy self, I had to get it out.

      2. Debbie Johansson 14/12/2014 — 11:09 pm

        Hi barbarabarbex. I know the feeling and have been struggling with it a lot lately. Whenever I don’t get any writing done I feel like a failure and a ‘wannabe’ writer. Why should I call myself a writer if I’m not writing? I’m currently working on smaller projects at the moment and telling myself that slow progress is still progress – and blogging has been a help too. 😉 Nice to meet you and good luck!

  2. Thank you, Debbie. Great article.

    1. Debbie Johansson 12/12/2014 — 3:26 am

      Thanks gabriela d.martin – I’m glad you liked it. Nice to meet you! 🙂

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