Tricks for sustaining momentum

July 30, 2015

Writing is great when I know where I’m going, and when I love what I’m producing. But it’s freakin.hard.work when I can’t see the path I’m following and/or I’m bored with my WIP. It’s difficult to sit down in front of the screen sometimes… even though I know I need to. My writer self is this unruly immature child who must be cajoled, begged and/or bribed into doing the work sometimes.

The writing (and editing) must still be done. Often, the greatest hurdle is simply starting for the day. Sometimes it’s more about overcoming a deep sense of THIS-IS-ALL-SHITE-WHY-AM-I-BOTHERING-NESS. Or about just pulling on my big girl pants and cracking on with it.

I’ve come up with this toolbag of tricks. For tricking myself into writing. Yes. I know that’s a bit strange. Me & myself & I & whatnot. Here’s what’s in my arsenal:

Candy & snacks. Tangible delicious rewards for writing & editing. Totally falls in the ‘bribery’ camp. Also sweet treats make me feel better while I look at my WIP and want to weep in despair. Coffee is also good – oh yeah, and wine if it’s a night-time session. (Sometimes I can catch this great creative high at night, which is awesome. Othertimes I am smooshing my hands into my face & wishing I was watching reality TV instead, in such cases, wine definitely does not help.)

Setting up a user profile on my laptop with no access to the internet. I am very very very good at procrastinating. Doing this stops me from randomly sifting through the entire interwebs instead of writing, and literally forces me to focus. Good for when I’m on a deathmarch to finishing something.

Reading what writers say about writing. Books and blogs about plotting & characters & the writing lifestyle – all of these things are motivating for me. Especially the ones where they talk about how awful it is, how much they hate writing, or how SLOW they are. I’m like YESSSS that is ME. Solidarity. Fistbump. I am just like this Real Author (TM).

Picking up a favourite book. Those stories and words that inspire me, the things I wish I had written, or just love to read. They make me WANT to write a great story. Good for when I need a pick-me-up, a hit of creative energy.

Going elsewhere. I’ve found that going to a cafe is a great way for me to reset & focus. I really don’t procrastinate in a cafe as much as when I’m at home. If I need to dive into a story & do some good thinking, this can be just the thing.

Routine. Writing every day makes it a habit. It takes a long time to get there (I once read it takes on average 66 days to create a habit) but once I am in one, it’s that little bit harder to stop. And so I get forward momentum simply from showing up day after day. This is probably the most simple and important ‘trick’ and conversely, the hardest one. Reminding myself of the benefits of showing up doesn’t always prompt me to get on with it. But hey, on such occasions, there’s always candy…

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