On this blog I’ve spent a lot of time extolling the virtues of what I like to think of as ‘writing when you’re ready’. Not torturing yourself over the keyboard to get down word after word if they just aren’t coming, while not completely abandoning the project or idea of writing either. All that being said, there are times when one simply has to write – a deadline looms, a finished project is expected, and there can be no walking away from the keyboard or paper this time.
So, what is one to do when one must write but finds themselves with no appetite for it? How can you make this laborious and often painful undertaking any easier? Below are a few of my personal tips and tricks that I’ve used when I’ve found myself in just such a situation; they’ve helped me, maybe they can help you.
- Easily achievable goals
The first step is to make sure you set up a series of easily achievable goals for yourself. If the only goal you set up is ‘to be finished’, that’s going to feel nigh impossible almost from the get go. Instead set up goals like, ‘I will write fifty words’, then ‘I will write one hundred words’, and so on and so on until you’ve reached a finishing point. These smaller goals will seem much more within your grasp and not nearly so daunting, like levels in a video game.
- The carrot or carrots
Participation awards aren’t just for little children – they’re for everyone. Set up rewards for yourself when you finish each of your goals. Have the self-discipline to set limits on your goals and make sure the size of the reward matches the size of the goal accomplished (i.e. it does you no good to be on a deadline and write only fifty words then watch two hours of tv, does it?) but also make sure they are things that legitimately make you feel good.
- The stick or sticks
This goes hand in hand with step two above; you also have to have the self-discipline to deny yourself things you might want until the goals have been accomplished. Haven’t written the next hundred words? No Facebook for you. Hold yourself to the promises you make and you’ll be amazed at what you’re motivated to accomplish.
- Banish negative talk from the room
There may very well be a time and a place to be self-critical (perhaps a blog post on that later), but now is certainly not it. You’re going to need all your concentration and all your self-confidence to complete the hard task placed before you and that leaves no room for doubt or self-recriminations. If you feel yourself starting to chastise, for whatever reason, stop what you’re doing and refocus on the positive.
- Write with a friend
Don’t quite trust yourself? No shame in that, sometimes we all need someone to hold us accountable! Write with a friend, someone who also has a project pending, and feed off of each other’s hard work and motivation. Set your goals together and take your rewards together. If one of you starts to flag, encourage the other. You’re in this together!