The hardest part about being a writer for me is sticking to my own goals and deadlines because something else is always deemed more important.
I started writing for fun. Then it was a hobby. After a time, writing royalties were my secondary income. And eventually, they became my primary income.
Not the primary income of my family, thank goodness! Haha. We would’ve starved a long time ago if that were the case. And that’s why I started to edit. Editing became my secondary income, but that’s morphed into my primary income in the last year.
And so the value of my writing time and goals and deadlines plummeted once again. The moment that happens, my writing productivity divebombs. Add in being a Work At Home Mom in there, and soon errands and running the kid around take precedence.
My writing is near the bottom of my list, but it can’t be. I’ve been trying to find ways for the last six months to change that so my productivity can be boosted. I need to release books. But I have to write them first! Haha.
So, how do other writers keep their own words, stories, projects at the forefront? I’m genuinely curious. So far, this is what I’ve tried for myself.
- Don’t touch social media or email until I have a solid chunk of words down. I’ve used Freedom and there are other programs out there that help people stay away from social media, but my real issue is that I mess around on my phone before I even get up. I need to program Freedom on my phone to make it work. I’ve been reluctant to do that, but I think it’s time.
- Writing sprints. Back in my hobby writing days, this was much more commonplace than it is today. I used to write in a fairly large community that was linked via Twitter back when it was a baby. I’d go online, tweet that I needed to get 2,500 words written tonight, and I’d have someone answering within minutes that we should sprint. An hour later, we’d report our word counts via chat, usually, but occasionally via Twitter. And before I knew it, my goal was met.
- For a time, there was an app called 5,000 WPH, but that’s since been removed from the app store, but it was a way to sprint with yourself.
- I’ve recently read about using the Pomodoro Method for writing. I’m familiar with this as a parent to a child with ADHD. My kiddo used this to get her homework done back in the day, and it’s named this because of the timer used, which was shaped like a tomato, or a pomodoro in Italian. Essentially you work for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break—use the bathroom, refill coffee, get the mail. Make a check mark, do another pomodoro, and then after you have 4 check marks, you can take a longer break. If your work is done before 4, then that’s fine too.
- Be accountable. I have a friend who asks me what I’m working on and I report to her when I’ve had great days or really horrid ones. Some days I feel like I need a troupe of people to report to. Haha.
- Tweeting out my word counts was something I used to do regularly during the first download of Scrivener. After an update that removed that feature, but I’m thrilled it’s back with the latest version. It’s that accountability thing that works for me.
- Speaking of that, tracking my word count on a program like Pacemaker or even on an excel spreadsheet can be helpful. I found this Tool for Writers on a search and started using it. Once I got to the editing process of Love on a Battlefield, I sort stopped. I’ve tried tracking on my bullet journal, but for some reason, that’s not nearly as satisfying. I like seeing the results in a chart. I like the color changes on Tools for Writers, but the graph on Pacemaker and the functionality wins out.
- Camp Nano. This was what really got me pumping out words. I wrote Spark during Camp Nano. I was going to take the month in between camp 1 and camp 2 to edit it, but I ended up writing Fusion instead, and during camp 2, I wrote Flare and finished up at something like 90,000 words 16 days into it. Camp Nano taught me to write, draft, don’t stop, and to just get the words down so I can fix them later. I’ve tried NaNoWriMo numerous times, but November is hell for me. It’s the absolute worst time of year.
- My own Nano. I think this is really the best thing for me. I don’t think the social aspect of Nano is what helps me as much as it is all the tracking and accountability and having a deadline to work toward. I can create that myself.
Do you have any great tools that work for you? Social groups that you benefit from? Any tricks? I’d love to hear them! Please comment below with links or whatnot. I need to get this year in gear!