I’m sure that if you’re here reading this blog post, you either enjoy writing or are curious about the mindset of those who do. Have you ever wondered how people release quality books way more often than you believed possible, especially when they have a life outside of writing?
I think it’s pretty common advice to know the ending of your story before you begin (hey, that’s how I write)! However, I’ve also met and chatted with plenty of people who look at me like I’m insane when I mention that. They told me that the adventure of creating a novel comes in when you start from someplace like the middle and work everything out from there. I can say with pretty firm conviction that my brain would wrap itself into knots if I decided to utilize that tactic, but it doesn’t change the fact that it works for plenty of other people!
With the above in mind, it also should make sense that everyone is motivated to write in a different way. In the early days, when I was just dipping my toes into the writing world as an angsty teenager, I waited for “the right mood to strike.” That’s right, I may as well have been clutching my crystals as I waited for the spirit of writing to descend upon me like some sort of paper-and-ink holy spirit. The mood did strike, often enough for me to take darn near five years to finish off a comic I’d conceived one day during class (and, believe it or not, after a recent reread it’s not half bad)! Of course, those of us who write seriously can’t decide to just drop sporadic work into the world every five years, or whenever we feel like it. Well, not if we are hoping to gain any traction for ourselves. Therefore, I came up with a little trick that I think would work for pretty much anyone.
Our brains are wired to love reward based trickery, so I set a goal for myself that looks like the following: if I write 150 words, I can do whatever the heck I want to afterward. I can sit and scroll social media for two hours straight, I can take my bike on a long ride outside, I can go buy a really nice bottle of wine and sit up staring at the wall, anything! But first, I have to get through those 150 words.
I chose the number 150 because it’s a ridiculously achievable goal, and I’ve honestly never not reached it, even if those 150 words ended up being low quality. Nothing I wouldn’t iron out in the edit, right? More often than not, along the way to that magic number, I get in the groove and I end up banging out thousands of words, far exceeding my goal. Another little trick that works well for me if to have two works going at the same time. If I get tired of one, more often than not, I’m game to try working on the other. Sometimes we get fatigued trying to work out a plot point or something. It’s fairly normal and happens fairly often. No use wracking your brain when you can just move on for a while.
I hope the above method ends up being useful for you. We have to remember to be kind to ourselves; sometimes after a long day at work, or a particularly exhausting day with the kids, or after listening to your in-laws blast your ears off about when that first grandkid might be in the works, you don’t make it around to checking in on your storybook characters. Trust that you’ll write much better when you are properly rested and taking care of yourself!