I found this post by James Clear really helpful. How many of us put off starting something and waste time trying to avoid doing it? I’m guessing all of us do it at some time or another…
Here’s a quick and easy tip to try. Starting now.
What are you going to start? I’m going to get stuck into those final corrections for ‘Isabel’s Choice’ that I have been managing to avoid for days.
Best advice I’ve read all week on how to become more motivated and achieve long-term success.
I have been trying to make small changes in my life – as James suggests. For example, one of the best motivators for my writing has been keeping a success journal. Because I am mapping every small and large win on facebook, I can see I am making progress. It makes it more likely that I will turn up!
I also have a pedometer – perhaps I should start to use that more reliably?
How do you keep motivated? What habits do you want to modify? Try small changes and reward yourself when you keep it up.
I LOVE the idea of starting a success journal! It has been hard to find time/energy/inspiration to get much writing done in recent months, and I think this would really help me to celebrate the wins (both big and small), and to keep track of how I am going.
My next question is – where should I map this journey? It is probably not really interesting enough for a blog – I think perhaps facebook? Anyone got any thoughts.
Check out this inspiring blogpost to find out more about keeping a success journal. Just five things a day…
My life changed, literally overnight, when I started keeping a success journal.
There are lots of ways we can (sometimes inadvertently) ‘hijack’ our writing, and one is by insisting on only writing the perfect word or the perfect sentence before we allow ourselves to move on. ARGH!
If you are trying to write a story, then surely you need to let the story move. And if you get bogged down by every sentence, then you might never finish. Or worse, you might end up with something that is stilted and doesn’t flow. I strongly believe that first you need a story, and then you can spend time perfecting your words. So write down all your ideas as quickly as you can, and then polish in the revision stage.
I’ll let you into a little secret. If I am seeing a scene flashing through my head and am desperately trying to capture it on paper, then the last thing I want to let myself do is become stalled. So if I have trouble thinking of the perfect word (and that happens often), I substitute it with ‘xx’, and then come back to it later. That way I don’t interrupt the flow.
Using ‘xx’ is also useful if I can’t remember something to do with continuity – such as a minor character’s name or place name that I know I’ve referred to before. My trick for that is to keep a separate document where I list all of the characters and places for that book/series, but again, don’t even look at the list when you’re in a flow – use xx for now! It is easier and better for time management to search for ‘xx’es and sort them out all at once at a later date.
I hope you find this useful! Just remember to do a search for ‘xx’ before you finalise your manuscript 🙂
Happy Valentine’s Day!
And speaking of romantic distractions, do you have problems with distractions when writing? It is very hard in the busy modern world to avoid them. I have some personal tricks which help me… (but you may have to be strict with yourself!)
- Find something stimulating to distract the children (I know screen-time is always enticing, but you might feel less guilty if its something more productive. My kids love lego, puzzles and board games too. Or perhaps quality time with some of their family and friends.
- Give yourself permission to have time off ‘busy-jobs’, Preferably, find a quiet room where there are no demanding creatures or gadgets (that includes cats, dogs, mobile phones, clocks, washing machines, irons, etc…)
- If you are writing into your computer, shut down your email, social media, everything that is not related to your writing. And even if you have author pages etc, shut them too. Set aside a separate time for promotion and social media – now is writing time!
- NO computer games. Not even as light relief. You know they will take over your attention. Just don’t even go there. Spend your ‘down time’ doing some research/background instead. Think about your characters, look for pictures on the internet that help to illustrate the people and places you are writing about. If you are feeling stuck in your story, think about another part of the book. Or write some notes and develop the plot on a separate document. Sometimes I do a timeline if I’m trying to keep track of who does what when, especially when I have books that are interrelated/part of a series. That sort of job is good when you are not feeling very inspired.
- If you are really stuck on the book you wanted to work on, start another book. Think about other ideas. I usually have at least 5 books I am working on at any one time. Some are set in the French revolution, another in contemporary Greece, another in Australia. Go where your mood takes you!
- Once you do have some ideas that you want to write down, nurture the flow and do all you can to avoid stalling. I have a special trick that has always worked well for me that I will share with you soon…
I hope some of these ideas for avoiding distractions resonate with you. Not everything will be relevant perhaps… I would love to know what works for you!
I’ve been doing a lot of research lately into how best to promote my books. There are so many options, and like many of you, I prefer to spend more time writing and less time on the other stuff.
I liked this article’s no nonsense approach. It is less about selling and more about finding quality of life, but then in such an uncertain industry perhaps it is just as well to focus on staying sane!