Finding and maintaining a productive writing schedule is a challenge for even the most prolific writer. Anyone who has ever put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), has discovered that getting started each day can often be the most difficult part of the process.
I’m no exception to that rule, but I have discovered a number of things that get me started. Following are five of my personal favorites.
1. Start the writing day with 10 or 25 minutes of idea generation. Pick a topic and brainstorm first thing in the morning . If you’re working on a book, dedicate this idea generation time to coming up with plot twists or new scene ideas.
If you aren’t working on a book, pick a topic and brainstorm.
2. Write for ten minutes. Set a timer and begin writing. Don’t stop until the timer goes off. If you’re not currently working on a novel, choose a topic and write whatever comes to mind. If you are working on a novel, write the next scene. Or write a scene that pits your hero against overwhelming odds.
If you’re writing nonfiction, try brainstorming new chapters or additional topics that might fit your book.
3. Challenge yourself to write a specific number of words each day. It could be as few as 10 or 20 or as many as you want. Be flexible and creative. Just remember the goal isn’t to use this time to work on your book—it’s to warm up your writing muscles.
Want to make it really interesting? Challenge yourself to write that amount of words in dialogue one day a week. No action beats or tags. Just conversation.
Believe it or not, the dialogue idea works for non-fiction, too. After all, what better way is there to put a unique spin on a non-fiction topic, even if you don’t end up using it in the final draft?
4. Challenge yourself to write a page a day (or a chapter a week or whatever other small segment works). Again, the goal isn’t working on your current book, it’s getting ready to work on your current book.
5. Take your writing on the road. Once a week, once a month, once in a while, find a new place to write. Write outside instead of inside. Go to a favorite coffee shop or restaurant or maybe the library. The physical change of scenery might be just what you need to recharge.
The goal with any writing challenge is to get motivated and keep moving forward. Whether you’re about to begin a new writing project, have just finished one, or are hip deep in one, you want to avoid writer’s block and slowdowns.
A writing challenge might be exactly what you need.
So have some fun with it and see what works for you.
How do you motivate yourself to keep writing or to get started on something new?