We are nearly through our Week of Writers’ Block series and, I’m going to be honest, I’m struggling with today’s block: motivation. This block is related to all of the other blocks because all of the other blocks can murder your motivation, but sadly, it’s also a block of its own.
Day 5: Setting Up Camp (or, It’s Sure Comfortable Here)
We have been talking a lot about hiking in the last four metaphors, which is weird since me and the outdoors have a live/let live policy with one another. Today, let’s continue the metaphor. Instead of hiking, though, you’ve found a comfortable clearing, maybe with a BBQ and a water hook-up, and you’ve set up camp. At first, you figure you’ll only rest the night, maybe two, before you continue on your journey. But then you have that first hot shower and you think “I could get used to this.”
Now weeks have passed and your tent has become a log cabin with a bear skin rug and a hearty fire in the fireplace. You have found every excuse to stay. Maybe the cabin needs a bed. Yeah, you can’t leave it for the next person without a place to sleep! So you forage some wood, craft a bed and set it up in the cabin. But now you need the mattress because sleeping on a wooden pallet is just as uncomfortable as sleeping on the floor. So you sew up a giant bag, find lots of dry grass, and stuff a mattress. Wonderful! But now you need a pillow…
It’s easy to find excuses not to write. An author that I admire very much once told me that she procrastinates by cleaning the entirety of her house, then makes some dinner, plays with her cats, and thinks about doing some exercise whenever she’s supposed to be writing. My procrastination is less productive. I watch TV, play video games, or take a nap to avoid sitting at my computer.
Writing is hard. You risk wasting your time every time you sit down. You risk having to confront some of the darker parts of yourself. You risk having to fight the demons of insecurity when you misspell a four letter word that you thought you mastered back in second grade, but clearly didn’t and maybe you should stop relying so much on spell-check, you dunce. So how do you keep yourself from procrastinating away all your writing time?
1. Set a Deadline
I liken this to setting a bomb in the clearing. In exactly three days time, this bomb will explode and destroy whatever I’ve built in this clearing so I won’t spend my time building a log cabin when it’s about to go up in smoke. That way, I get my chance to rest but I know that I have to get a move on before my stuff blows up.
One of the great parts of NaNoWriMo is that there is a deadline: 50 000 words by December 1. That is a clear goal that you want to reach. It’s something you can turn into manageable bit-sized chunks (1 667 words per day or 11 667 words per week). Lit magazines also provide motivating deadlines in the form of contests. To stop you from using the excuse that you need to search for contests and deadlines instead of writing, head over to Literistic where every month you get a list of publications with calls for submission or contests.
If it’s not November or you’re more interested in writing novels instead of short stories, give yourself a word count that you need to hit every month. Incentivize it if that helps you. Another option is to let life dictate some of your deadlines. For example, I have a baby due in January. If I’ve barely found enough time to write with 1 kid, how am I going to find enough time to write with 2? So I’ve got a deadline of January to get my novel done (haha – yeah right). In the short term, Monkey naps for about 3 hours every day so if I want to write, I have to do it in that time. Another deadline.
2. Get a Buddy
It’s easier to motivate yourself if you delegate that task to someone else! If you have a friend that is also writing, motivate each other! Keep each other up to date on your progress and, if you haven’t heard in a while, nag each other until there is some writing happening. If you’ve got a group to be accountable to, that’s even better!
Speaking of deadlines, my little Monkey has woken up and my deadline has been reached! So now it’s your turn! Tell me about your motivational blocks and come back tomorrow to tackle the second last writers’ block!