Writers are self-doubting people. Many of us revolt against ourselves and strike fear into our own hearts. We are, after all, our own worst critics.
My secret is simple: I make everything count. Every effort, no matter how small, gets me one step closer to my goal. Even if you have limited time to write, you might be surprised at how quickly the words add up. All you need to do is hold yourself accountable and show up for work. No creative magic required.
Here are three tips to write every day.
1. Set the bar low – really low.
Ambitious goals cripple our daily writing practice. If we set out to write 1000 words per day, we hesitate to sit down at the keyboard unless we feel ready to write those 1000 words. On a day when we feel exhausted and uninspired, we won’t even try.
Some days I only do my bare minimum. Even then, I can feel good about hitting my daily goals. But I’ve had many days when I thought I only had 50 words in me and ended up writing 800.
Set a goal so low you can not try to meet it. Inertia will take over. You’re not going to force yourself to quit when you meet your 50-word goal, but you might feel too intimidated by a 1000-word goal to write anything at all.
2. Show up every day.
Approachable goals make it feel possible to write every day. Successful writing isn’t about showing up for quality work, it’s about showing up at all.
Creativity is a habit. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. The words won’t always flow freely, and sometimes you’ll struggle to do the work. That’s okay. Every writer has those days (or months).
The sooner you dispense with the romantic idea of inspiration — and its counterpart, writer’s block — the better. If a project truly feels impossible, take a break to write something else. But do keep writing.
3. Find a source of accountability.
If you’re not working under a deadline, consider introducing external accountability to your writing. Many of us will much sooner disappoint ourselves than another person. Use that to your advantage. Here are some ways I’ve used external forces to help me finish a project:
- National Novel Writing Month: When you tell everyone you’re writing a novel in 30 days, you have a natural desire to hit that 50,000-word “winner” target.
- Writing/critique partner: A critique partner gives you a chance to discuss your work one-on-one and arrange a timeframe to work towards.
Just keep writing.
The secret to long-term productivity is obvious, simple, and occasionally overwhelming: just keep writing. To do that, you need to set your goals low enough that you won’t fear failure. You’ll probably need something external to hold you accountable to your goals. But these tools are a means to the ultimate end, which is writing every day, even when you feel like your tank is empty.
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