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Right in Front of You – Elia Scott
Soul Forgotten – Laura Winter (3 book series with a new release!)
I absolutely love writing. It’s potentially the most loved passion I have. I started writing in late 2018 and I don’t plan on stopping.
But there are some days where sitting in front of the computer is the last thing I want to do. Sometimes the cause is burnout, sometimes it’s just a ‘blah’ day, and sometimes it’s just a fear of the blank page or not knowing what to write.
Back when I was working full-time, I assumed that I’d always be excited to leave work and come home to actually work on my passion. And some days that wasn’t enough. Now that I’m surrounded by writing as my 9–5, there are times where writing is not doing it for me.
You can’t rely on passion alone to make your writing life work, otherwise everything would be easy. When writing is your passion, you have to be willing to work on it — to drudge through the drudgery. So when the motivation to write isn’t there naturally, you have to get to work.
Make a plan
One of the most successful habits I’ve picked up is my Most Important Task (MIT) list. The night before, I make a plan of the top 3 things I want to accomplish. Those are then the first three things I do in the day.
But at some point, my list started to become a little vague. “Write a chapter for book 3, Write a Medium post, Write a chapter for a short story.”
These MITs were great but they were lacking any sort of commitment. My plan needed details or I’d spend too much time sitting and thinking about what to write. Here’s an example of one of my lists after I put in details.
- Write a chapter for book 3: Finnley has a run-in with Apex in the library after completing her last final. Reflect on the last chapter’s events. Apex is using scripts so they can keep F from reading their real thoughts and intentions. They underestimate F’s ability and she makes several threats (as always).
- Write a Medium post: Five minimalist tips that helped me start and stay on track. Include realigning values and cutting out the non-essential, even outside of material things. Typically I have a list of the main points I’ll make.
- Write a short story chapter: Kira is struggling with her art and Lena is trying to help her out by reminding her of a time when her creative muse was around. Noah comes into town and is overwhelmed with the events of moving out. Set up a forced run-in at the bar.
Now, even if I don’t have the motivation to write, I have done the ‘hard’ work of thinking about what the chapters or tasks will entail. When I sit down, I don’t have to worry about thinking it all up on the spot or wasting time researching. I know what I’m writing so I can just sit down and start.
While my MITs are typically longer tasks, they can also be short ones. I like to set small goals to help me knock things off my secondary to-do list. These are things like making a quick social media post about a new article or podcast, writing 500 words before 9AM, walking the dog for 30 minutes, or even just having breakfast.
Even if these small goals have nothing to do with writing, they can typically get my momentum started. I can cross things off my list and feel like I’ve been somewhat productive. Having a few small wins helps get me in the mindset to tackle bigger and better projects.
Then, when I sit down to do those bigger projects, I break that task into smaller goals. Maybe I shoot for completing the chapter in an hour or working until I get to 1000 words before I’m allowed to take a break. Typically I reach that goal and have found the momentum to keep going.
Maintain a routine
I know I work best on intellectual tasks when I wake up. Typically, my writing is done best in the morning hours. After lunch, I’m usually on a downturn of mental capacity so I use that time to focus on social media posts, graphic design for my book covers, and small edits.
I have a set routine. I am in my chair to write at or before 9AM every day. I have a plan on what I’m going to write, I have a water to my right and a sleeping cat between me and the keyboard, and I have my writing program pulled up. I eliminate as many barriers to my writing as possible (minus the sleeping cat).
Having a routine helps train my brain and body to know that at 9AM, I better be writing. And when I’m prepared to be writing during that time, I can more easily tune out the distractions and focus.
One of my favorite things to do is switch up how I’m writing. I have a notebook and pen that sit by my desk so whenever I feel like I need to step away from the keyboard, I can take my notebook to the couch and write until my hand cramps.
Changing to pen and paper helps me focus on different things, slow my brain down, and really work through certain scenes. I usually switch to this method if I need to work out a problem in my chapters.
Don’t write — just think
I get it. Sometimes the answer to your writing problems is to not write. Maybe you need a break. Maybe you just need to take a step back and think about writing rather than actually doing it.
I’ve spent my ‘off’ writing days just thinking about writing. I work through my scenes much like I do when I write by hand. I picture what could happen and how it might change the story moving forward.
It also gives me time to test out new ideas and see how far they can go. If I can build out a solid story, I make sure I jot down a few key points so when I get back to writing, I can know what I’m working with.
There’s also the option to just take a break. If you need to step away from writing and reset your mind, there’s nothing wrong with that. Do what you need — because only you can understand what your mind and body requires to be successful.
You can follow along my writing journey by joining my tribe. You’ll get access to a short story and the first chapter of my newest book If Found, Do Not Return.