Most writers tend naturally to write in spurts – frantically typing away when the muse strikes, and going through slumps when they can’t seem to get anything out of the keyboard.
But the best writers seem to say that consistency is key. Writing every day, no matter what the quality, is the key to improving your writing.
As Jane Yolen says “Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without exercise, the muscles seize up.”
And another quote from Jodi Picoult: “You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
So okay, we know we need to write consistently. So how do we go about doing that?
Set aside time
First thing, plan out a block of your day that will be writing time. Choose your best time: when you know you’ll be focused and energized. It doesn’t even have to be a long time – even fifteen minutes can get you somewhere. If it’s going well, you can always extend it. Make that time sacred.
Accept your imperfection
None of the amazing novels you’ve read were ever hammered out exactly as is on the first try. Authors go through a ton of work before they generate something worthwhile. So what makes you think your work has to be polished, publishable material the minute it hits the screen? If you can accept that what you’re going to write isn’t going to be perfect, then writing every day gets easier.
Get a jumpstart
If you start out not knowing what to write, do a quick google search for a writing prompt. There’s a lot of stuff out there that can give you a spark. Or if you’re stuck on a work in progress, try jumping to a different part of your story and string it together later.
Keep track of your writing times. If it works for you, mark off on a calendar or check off a box on a list. Make a goal for how many days you want to write in a row and set rewards. You can give yourself a little reward for a week, a bigger one for a month, a great big one for a year. And if you’re having a really hard time, then dole out rewards every day for the first little while.
Do whatever it takes to get yourself in the chair every day. Set a reminder on your phone, or a post-it note by the computer. Get a friend to nudge you.
Make yourself do it
When it all comes down to it, you’re the only one who can accomplish this goal. You have to exert the willpower and remind yourself of your goal, even on the harder days. I promise it will pay off! 🙂
11 thoughts on “Writer Wednesday: How to get consistent”
I so needed to read this post! just the motivation I needed to be regular. thanks.
Aw, thanks! So glad to help! 🙂
As a Writing Tutor I loved this post! I tell my students all the time that you need to write everyday to form the “habit” just like any other skill. Two other suggestions I would pass along to those who have troubles sitting down and starting.
1. Free Writing. Just write about anything non-stop for 1 minute BY HAND. Don’t stop to worry about if what you’re writing even makes sense. It doesn’t need to be on topic or about anything in particular. You can repeat yourself or do whatever you need to in order to make it to 1 minute. By the time your one minute is up, you’ll likely realize you’ve started to write about your topic without even noticing. Take that as your starting point and move on. In any case, your “writing muscles” will be warmed up and it’ll be easier to get to it!
2. Never finish your sentence. If you make time to write everyday this is an excellent way to get you back into your writing quickly. If you write very sporadically this will be frustrating because you won’t remember where you were trying to go with that thought. This is a quick way to immerse yourself back into your writing without having to do a long re-read through of what you’ve already done.
Thanks! Great tips Sarah – I haven’t been brave enough to try free writing, but I should some time. It could work well for coming up with blog topics. lol 🙂
Free writing can definitely seem a little intimidating (especially the writing by hand part in today’s tech world!), but that technique is how I got through my Master’s thesis! I’ve added your blog to my follow list and look forward to more interesting posts in the future. 🙂
Thanks so much! I’ll keep writing, then. 🙂
Great tips, I agree consistency is the key, that works for me..
Thanks Annemarie! 🙂
Reblogged this on Burning the Root and commented:
Wonderful advice! So much I never thought of listed here to continue writing every day.
Thanks so much, Iona! Humbled. 🙂