Whether it’s holidays, special occasions or just business getting busy, it’s easy to lose your writing momentum as you get caught up in your day-to-day routine. Unfortunately once you lose that momentum it can be even harder to get back into the habit of writing than it was to get started, and many writers who get off to a great start put down their drafts never to look at them again.
Use the following five tips to keep your writing momentum up when life gets in the way.
- Set a daily writing target
Commit to writing a regular number of words per day. It can be 5,000 words, 2,000 words, or even 500 words – no matter how much you choose, simply committing to achieving something every day is a great way to keep things chugging along. Not only will your word count keep climbing, but your book will remain front-of-mind, which means you’re more likely to think of new ideas in the shower, wake up having resolved structural issues, and get even more done the next time you have a free hour.
Whether you commit to writing 500 words a day, or just 15 minutes a day, pick an amount that’s enough for you to feel a sense of accomplishment, but not enough for it to feel like too much effort to get started.
- Have a regular writing schedule
If you have a regular writing time you’re more likely to get your words done. By contrast, if you just wait until you find the time, it will suddenly be 2am and you have no energy left to write.
Choose a time that you can commit to regularly, rather than trying to fit your writing around your life. I’d recommend in the morning, so you don’t need to worry about getting side-tracked during the day.
- Carry a notepad with you at all times
Or you can carry your phone. What can I say? I’m old fashioned.
Either way, make sure you can write notes if inspiration strikes. They don’t need to be detailed – just jot down a couple of points that will jog your memory the next time you sit down to write. (Believe me, there’s nothing more irritating than having a brilliant idea, and not remembering it once you have the time to write.)
- Make yourself accountable
The right writing buddy can be a great motivator – someone with whom you can swap ideas, brainstorm, compete on word counts… Ensure your buddy knows your writing targets and be prepared to reveal your word count every time you touch base.
Keep in mind that the best way to stay accountable is to keep the stakes high, so how can you raise the stakes? Is there something humiliating you can agree to do if you don’t hit your word count? Can you give someone you hate a large cheque? Can you give your writing buddy a large cheque?
- When in doubt, plan
If you’re struggling to write, plan. One of the places where writers get stuck is trying to figure out how to expand on chapter topics. By contrast, the more you plan out your chapters in advance, the less you’ll have left to write, and the more guidance you’ll have when it comes to the writing process.
When it comes to planning, don’t just think about your chapter topics. Think about why that chapter is important to the reader – what are the benefits if they follow your advice? What are the risks if they don’t? Do you have an anecdote or case study that contributes to this? Then think about how they can follow your advice – do you have some thinking questions or an exercise they can do?
Ask these questions for every subtopic within each chapter, and you’ll never run out of things to write about.