By Kat | August 2, 2011
If you’re a writer who never has trouble getting the daily word count on paper, who writes easily and fluidly without ever getting stuck, look away now. This post is not for you.
…To the 99% who didn’t look away, hi there! You’re in good company. What inspired me to do this post, in fact, was a recent message from bestselling ebook author Amanda Hocking where she is having trouble writing, too. Her office smells musty, and she can’t work in it…but that’s where she works, it’s part of her routine! What now?
This is one of the things that can make a writer’s life difficult. Now Amanda is a notoriously fast writer, and I am sure it won’t take her much time to establish a new routine. But that may not be so easy for all of us.
Here’s some ideas for getting yourself to write, even when it feels impossible:
- Write down your wordcount every day. This makes you more accountable to yourself, and it’s a useful trick to practice. You don’t want to write down “0 words”, so you’ll make yourself keep going.
- Write 100 words per day. Now this goes against all writing advice you may have heard, and you may be thinking — 100 words per day, that’s nothing! I’ll never finish a book that way!
But the point is that 100 words is a tiny amount. It’s doable. No matter how ‘stuck’ you feel, you can force your brain to crank out 100 words. And the magic of it is that once you get to 100 words, you can usually keep going. At least for another 100 words. And so on, and so on…
- Write whatever the heck you want. You can’t figure out the plot? Write about the scenery. You hate the point of view you chose? Grab a different one, no matter how crazy, and write from that POV. Write a bit of dialogue between two characters who haven’t even met yet. Write a poem, a love scene, a limerick. Can’t think of anything whatsoever? Write about the wallpaper you’re staring at. The sooner you can convince your brain that it’s Just For Fun, not all Serious and Difficult, the sooner you can get back into the groove.
- Use the Pomodoro Technique. That’s a fancy name, but all it means is you set a timer for 25 minutes, and during those 25 minutes you must write, nothing else. Use a kitchen timer or your iPhone clock, your bedroom alarm, whatever’s handy. When the set time is over, take a 10 minute break and set another 25 minute writing period.
This writing technique is especially useful if you keep finding yourself wandering away from your desk or laptop — oh, those plants need watering! Oh, the cat needs attention! Oh, look at those dirty windows, I must wash them right now! — when you should be writing.
- Write anywhere. It’s easy to fall into the trap where you can write only if your office is sparkling clean, your desk is empty, you have a cup of coffee and a cigarette, and you have no distractions whatsoever.
It’ll take time and effort, but you can retrain yourself to write anywhere — in the underground, in your lunch break, outside on a park bench, in a crowded bar, in the doctor’s waiting room. This takes practice, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to start today. Take a small notebook and pen with you wherever you go, or a smart phone and a roll-up keyboard, and write.