I do it every year. Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes I start all gang-busters in January, only to have the beach calling me by July. But there are a few tricks you can use to stick to it, and actually make that novel happen.
Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Write it down. I know, it seems strange to write down that you’re going to write. But for me, seeing it in print makes it real. Put a “Go Write!” sticky note on your fridge. Set a reminder on your phone. Write it on your bathroom mirror so when the room steams up from your shower, the words appear as a ghostly message. You want to think about writing every time you turn around.
2. Schedule your writing time. Fill in your writing time on your calendar like any other appointment in your day: Monday you have a board meeting at 10, a conference call at 1, and writing at 4. You wouldn't decide to vacuum the living room instead of attending a staff meeting. Treat your writing appointments the same way.
3. Be realistic. I spent the first couple years of my writing career reading advice from other writers that lectured me to write every day. Great idea. Hard to make happen. When I couldn't write daily I felt like I had failed, which made me even less likely to sit down the next time. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Do you have kids? A full-time job? A needy great aunt who demands you take her to the dollar store every Thursday? Life is full. Think about your entire world when you set your writing schedule.
4. Join a writers group. Nothing can guilt you into writing more than a writers group. Those people expect you to share your writing on a specific day and time, so you better have written something to share. (By the way, I know a new group for writing middle grade and YA fiction starting up here in Portland. If you’re interested, send me a note and I’ll share the details.)
5. Take a workshop. Have you been writing on your own for a few months and you’re starting to feel isolated? Go hang out with other writers, hear what they’re doing. Or stop by an author reading. Workshops, readings, and conferences are great for rejuvenating. And it doesn't hurt to network a little while you’re there – that person standing by the cheese platter could turn out to be your next editor. Shameless plug: I’m offering a one-day Children’s Writer's Boot Camp through Portland Adult Education in February. Find out more.
Do whatever it takes to keep that New Year’s resolution. Just write.