It doesn’t matter whether you write essays, novels, or short stories, often the hardest part is getting yourself to sit down and put words down. My critique group discussed this on Wednesday and it was also a discussion in my novel writing group.
What I quickly realized is that different things work for different writers. That’s why it helps to be aware of various ways to get yourself to sit down and write. I don’t know what will work for you. You may not know what will work for you next month.
Here are five things for you to try.
Accountability or a Deadline
This is the idea behind NaNoWriMo. You have one month to write 50,000 words. For some writers, belonging to a critique group works much the same way. My group meets twice a month – once on Zoom and once in person. That’s two opportunities to get my work in front of my peers but only if I get something done.
Where You Write
Another factor can be location, location, location. My friend Pat cannot work on longer fiction at home. She has to go to the library. I told her that I didn’t think that would work for me because I’m too busy people watching. She admitted that she usually gets one of the study rooms. In this small, well-lit room, she isn’t distracted by her dogs, the laundry or anything else. She just sits and writes.
Turn Off the Monitor
Actually producing words can be tough if you keep going back to change the previoius line. Some people solve this problem by turning off their monitors. I am a horrible typist. Often enough when I can see things, I position my hands incorrectly. I would be the person who typed an entire page with my left hand one key off. But this might work for you.
One of the writers I know online said that he always stops mid-sentence. He hates leaving a sentence unfinished and this pulls him back to his desk to write some more. Again, he stops mid-sentence.
I’m going to try this out tomorrow. I often stop mid-scene but if it is a tough scene, I’ll leave it for two days while I work on other things.
Just Five Minutes
Something that has worked for me is to give myself permission to write for just five minutes. This works when I am really busy. Or stressed. Or also working on a work-for-hire.
I don’t have to write two pages. I don’t have to write for fifteen minutes. I just have to write for five minutes. I can do that while pasta cooks!
There are a variety of reasons that we avoid writing. Perhaps one of these solutions will work for you. Or, you might want to share in the comments various techniques that you have used in the past.