We’ve all been there, at least us writers. We are somewhere between the beginning and the end of a story and find ourselves not wanting to go back. We hover with the taunting blinking icon awaiting those words that never come and we ultimately find ourselves on social media distracting from the story that needs to be written. It’s common place, but what to do? What to do? I decided to share my top 10 ways to keep going and getting it done.
Some of these may work for you and some of these may not work for you. I listed what I know has worked for me, some times one or two will work and sometimes just one, but this is my personal list rewritten for this post.
- 12 – Set a goal: Giving yourself a target to aim for is utterly helpful. How else will you get from A to B? I’m not saying know instantly how the story will end, just know you want to end this story by -insert a date-. When given a deadline it’s setting a goal, but sometimes deadlines can be hard to meet. A publisher will put a deadline on a project, but you can put a secondary one just for yourself to finish by. You can set different goals, that’s just an example of one you can do. Another goal that’s common is completely x-amount of words a day, week, or even monthly.
- 11 – Reading the work as a reader: While writing we don’t listen to what we’re doing. This is something I do during revisions and editing, don’t do it when you’re writing it’ll become a complete cluster**** if you do it during. This is a hard lesson I had to learn, but it’s an important one. Take time, if you can, to read the work or have your program read it to you. You’ll start hearing for yourself when things don’t sound right, catch errors, and give you a good first impression not as the writer, but as a reader.
- 10 – Take a break: Sometimes we work so hard we have written ourselves into a rut. Taking a break is not only good for the story, but good for the writer. Too long in one place is bad on the body, especially the legs, and if you’re hurting you will be even less likely want to write. Just walk away for awhile, but return!
- 9 – Don’t edit while you’re writing: This can be hard, but it will interrupt a creative flow. Revisions can come after getting the story out, they should come anyways because no one should ever publish a first draft of a manuscript or send that in to a publisher.
- 8 – Why so serious?: Though the work is considered important, don’t take it so serious. You’re going to add pressure on top of whatever negativity that is bubbling and that’s no good. Write, take your time, and pace yourself. Too much too fast may overwhelm you very quickly, especially if you’re working on multiple projects and everything is on deadlines.
- 7 – Write what you love: If you’re writing something you don’t enjoy my question is why? If you don’t have some passion for the project you’re involved in it will reflect in the final piece.You’ll also most likely never attempt whatever you were trying to do again.
- 6 – Don’t quit: Remember its a marathon not a sprint. If you are rushing a project just to get it done it’ll show. If you’re doing something you don’t like it’ll show. No matter what you’re doing don’t give up! Giving up is never the answer to anything, trying and finishing is better than telling a publisher that you ‘just couldn’t do it’. If you are unable to meet a deadline you can request an extension, but repeatedly missing extensions will reflect badly upon you, the kind of person you are, and the kind of career you’re wanting for yourself. Write the story, finish the book, and don’t give up!
- 5 – Stop while you still want to write: I know this sounds weird, but it works. If you have yourself on a time limit, emergency, or something else and you cannot write anymore get to a point where you want to keep going with the story and step away. You’ll be eager to get back to it and most likely return to the project refreshed. It’ll also be easier to return to a project that’s proving difficult.
- 4 – Remember you’re in control: Many writers will joke that the character(s) are ‘not letting them’ write the story they way they want, but realistically we know (or hopefully many know) that we control things. We create the characters and the world. I’ve come across writers becoming frustrated because -insert character name- isn’t letting them do the scene properly. I’ve said it, others have said it, but I’ve always joked blaming that as the reason my story frustrating me, but the truth is it was well overdue for me to step away. Remember you control the story, if it isn’t working step back to a point that it was working and start again. I’ve deleted entire chapters that weren’t working, it has helped me greatly!
- 3 – Have you purged?: I believe strongly in writer’s block being real. I had no ideas and had no want to begin even though I’d try. I didn’t have a creative burnout, I was doing other things creatively. (Though I have had a burnout) I eventually got frustrated and in this frustration I opened a word document and began writing all that I wanted in one book, then another, and another. I eventually purged all my ideas out for two series, short stories, and ideas for things that could fall into any category. I wrote about this method for Horrortree and it still is something I have used to this day when I’m having a moment. Read The Purging Method article for more details on this and see actual pictures of what I did.
- 2 – Organize: Some people don’t do this, but it is pretty important. I use a program called Scrivener to keep things organized in stories. I don’t use it for writing, but I know many do. Ever been writing and realize so and so suddenly has blue eyes when they were suppose to be green? That’s due to disorganization while writing and forgetfulness. It can cause frustration and if it’s bad enough a complete writing breakdown leading to not wanting to do the work.
- 1 – Don’t be lazy: Just not doing the work will hurt the work, obviously. Being lazy on the job is bad, any job really. Being lazy can lead to writing becoming an issue and you ultimately hating it when you realize the deadline is coming. The book isn’t going to get to the publisher and get published by itself! Putting in the work makes those rewards so much more delicious.