When you want to write, and … By Sherryl Clark
Victoria University Polytechnic Professional Writing and Editing courses.
Every year, thousands of writers vow that from the 1st of January, they will be more disciplined and they will write every day. Or write 5000 words a week. Or finish that novel draft by 30 June. New Year’s resolutions for writers are no different than resolutions to get fit or lose weight or stop eating chocolate. You feel extremely motivated for a few days or a couple of weeks, and then something happens and you don’t write for a few days and immediately you label yourself Failure.
Motivation is easy when you’re feeling it. Incredibly hard when you’re hungover or sick or just plain tired. Boring as it may sound, routine is what will save you.
Twice, I have been in a small group of writers who committed to writing at least 2 pages (or for 30 minutes) every day, and then checking in with the group to say “Done”.
You might think this is easy. 30 minutes is nothing.
Some days the 30 minutes whizzed past and before I knew it, I had 4-5 pages. Some days, though, I kept watching the clock and forcing out some more words and wishing those minutes would magically speed up so it would be over.
The commitment to 30 minutes was only half of it. The check-in was just as important. It was like a constant nudge in my back that said, ‘Have you written yet?’ And the checking in meant we were all in it together, so every check-in said, “I showed up today.”
The accountability part of this makes you feel less alone, and also reminds you that other writers have the same problems and everyone is doing their best. The 30 minutes/2 pages is also designed to make writing a habit.
I can’t remember which writer said they always stop in the middle of a sentence so when they come back the next day, once they finish the sentence they’re off and running again. Sometimes I do that – I will stop in a scene, even though I could keep going, because the next day I will know what comes next. More importantly, because I am committed to writing every day, I spend much more time thinking about my novel, and about what comes next, so the story keeps flowing, inside my head and onto the page.
Doing a writing course helps immensely with motivation and discipline – you are in a class with other writers, and you have plenty of deadlines and writing tasks to keep you going. Applications for the Certificate IV in Professional Writing and Editing open very soon – you can apply online at https://www.vu.edu.au/