I've spent years saying I'm going to write a book. Yet I procrastinated all those years. I've started things, lost interest, start them again, and never finish. To remedy this depressing cycle, I've come up with strategies to see a project from conception to publishable quality.
1. Unplug the Internet
This is the most vital part for me. If I don't unplug the internet, I'll start surfing websites as soon as I get stuck on how to structure my next sentence. When I write in a paper notebook, I sit away from the computer. Going outside among the bunnies and bluebirds is an even bigger help.
2. Set Writing Days
I used to tell myself I needed to write EVERY SINGLE DAY or else my efforts WOULD BE WORTHLESS.
I no longer subscribe to that point of view. In addition to writing, I like to read, play video games, and dabble in an endless number of crafty and artistic endeavors. I also have a living space to clean, friends and loved ones to spend time with, and my senior year of college coming up. Writing every day is not feasible for me at the moment. Setting specific writing days take the pressure off of finding time to write on a daily.
If you do want to write every day, Siobhan Vivian has a great post on how to keep on track. My writing days are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday with a daily goal of 500 words. Which brings me to the next item...
3. Set Small Word Goals
I set my daily word goal to 500 words because that it is big enough to feel satisfyingly productive and small enough to manage on a busy schedule--even a three day one. Once I've written 500 words, I'm so in the zone the 500 words easily becomes 1,100 words before I'm ready to call it a day.
4. Keep a Word Count
My latest log looks like this:
June 14 2010
Beginning Word Count: 8,334
Words Written: 537
Ending Word Count: 8,871
Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
I love looking at these counts. So close to 10K words! That will be about 1/7 of my novel. I keep track of my time to remind myself getting my word goal down doesn't take 5 hours the way my mind tricks me into thinking it does when I'm not writing.
5. Don't Revise Until the First Draft is Finished
I'm coming up on a scene I've written six times already. My dissatisfaction with this particular scene is one big reason I haven't been able to move forward. I accept that I'll start to get it right this time, and that I need to let it be until I write the ending.
Writing strategies are welcome in the comments! I'm going to go unplug the internet for a couple hours.