Yeah, I know you’re all singing it. Don’t pretend otherwise.
It’s all go here at Sarcastic Muse and what a month July has been. Robyn’s recent book, Shadows Wake, is hurtling it’s way up the charts and, like a snowball, gathering a number of great reviews and recommendations as it goes (next stop, Oprah). Amanda’s still celebrating her publishing debut in the new horror anthology, Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity (which incidentally is available in digital format from all major sellers today). Kirsten’s busy prepping for her first Writer’s Con and enjoying the success of her second book, A Shadow’s Kiss. Jen’s had some great news regarding a number of recent short story submissions and, in between rescuing spiders and other creepy crawlies, Michelle has won Camp NaNo with a whopping 30,000 words written in just a fortnight.
What about me? Well, I erm…I managed to not burn the place down in my first week (a HUGE achievement after the last time…those poor writers…)
Like I say, busy month.
In a recent chat with the other muses, the topic of achieving word goals came up. Like everyone else, we’re all finding it tough to consistently hit our daily word goals (except for Robyn who writes like a bazillion words a day as well as eighteen blog posts). I told them I’d solved this problem by having a daily target of zero, but that got me stern looks and I had to go sit in the corner for a while. While I was there, I got to thinking. During Camp NaNoWriMo, I maintained and often exceeded my daily goal of 1.6k words which, in turn, shattered my usual goal of 500 words. How was this possible? Was it the support from friends and family? In part. Was it because of Amanda’s threat to feed me to the thing in the basement if I didn’t win? Maybe. What really made it possible was routine.
Finding your groove
Routine was important during NaNo. I only got a couple of hours a day to write and had to make the most of it. I needed to be able to sit at my desk and just write without distraction and without the usual dithering you have at the day job. When I sat down to write, I had to write. This wasn’t so easy at first, but as each day passed, the routine brought the words and the inspiration.
“I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning”
-Peter De Vries
So, how do we go about finding a routine? That’s a great question, help yourself to a cookie. Let me tell you.
1. Find your writing space
There’s a lot to be said for having a place dedicated to writing. A place where you can go about the work without being disturbed, where all your reference materials are to hand. It doesn’t have to be a whole room, it could be a place on the couch or your favourite chair. What matters is that it’s comfortable and used only for when you write.
2. Set aside time to write
If you’re serious about writing, you have to make time to write. Talking about writing and ‘research’ in front of the TV doesn’t count. I was going to go into a bit of detail about this but Phil Giunta beat me to it. Go read his post for better tips than mine. Not that I’m bitter or anything.
3. Switch off the internet, disconnect the phone
Distraction is the enemy of routine. Really, how long are you going to carry on the pretense that you’re researching? After your sixth game of [insert flash game of choice here]. Newsflash, looking at adorable kitty pictures isn’t research and neither is it writing. Use your writing time and your writing space for what it was intended.
4. Set yourself achievable goals
Ignore all that chatter on Facebook and Twitter about writers who write 1000+ words an hour (most are lying anyway) and set a goal that is comfortable for you. I have a goal of writing 500 words a night (currently increased to 1,500) but that doesn’t mean you have to. Why not a goal of 100 words a night? 500 a week? Anything that gets you writing is good. You don’t even have to tell anyone what it is.
Just write. Feeling inspired? Write about what inspires you. At a loss for words? Free write. It doesn’t matter what you write about but get words onto the paper. Nothing disheartens someone trying to find their groove more than a blank page. Keep filling the page with words and eventually you’ll start finding some you like.
Open question time: does anyone have any tips of their own when it comes to getting into a writing routine? Please share them in the comments below.