The most frequent complaint I hear as my writing classes near the end of a term is, “How will I keep going?” Nanowrimo is still 8 months away. You have to squeeze in writing time after work or before the family wakes up. Without the structure and nurture of an instructor and/or a trusted group to give feedback and cheer you on, what is your strategy for staying motivated and disciplined?
Writing Tip for Today: There are as many ways to stay focused as there are writers. Here are a few I’ve used or heard about:
- The number one way my students stay plugged in is to form a working critique group with willing members of the class that’s ended. Decide on meetings every month, every week or some other schedule, but meet to discuss and encourage each other’s work. You may all be beginners but you’ll at the very least pressure each other to be accountable for producing writing.
- If a group isn’t happening, a writing partner might be the next best thing. Partners not only give feedback but also help each other stick to a writing schedule and cheer each other on.
- If it isn’t possible to find or form a group, retake the class or find a new one to keep you interested. For memoirists, you’ll have to wait until next Winter Term, but I welcome all writers to the novel writing class.
- Write something, anything. If you get bogged down on a long work such as a novel, take a break and write some essays, stories, screenplays or poetry.
- Read as many books as you can. Don’t read with the idea of dragging yourself through the mud. “Oh, I could never be as good as that!” Instead, stay positive. Let accomplished authors lift your boat by inspiring you to write more, practice more, learn more about the craft.
- You are a writer. You want to write, not just to have written. Take your writing seriously and don’t let it molder at the bottom of your priority list. Resistance, as Steven Pressfield reminds us in The War of Art, is the only thing keeping you from realizing your writing potential. The only way around resistance is to write.