Distractions, all of them.
What I needed for a long time was something to keep me accountable for the words on the page. Something fun even. A spoonful of sugar, as Mary Poppins would say.
|THIS IS HOW MARY POPPINS JUDGES YOU WHEN YOU AREN'T WRITING.|
1) STICKERZ. Stickers. My toddler loves stickers. She puts them on her hands and shirt, and then I wash said shirts with said stickers still on them with disastrous results. But stickers aren't all bad. Authors Rachel Hawkins and Victoria Schwab use a sticker accountability method to keep track of written pages, which is both efficient and adorable. Here's Rachel's system. And here's Victoria's.
2) KAMIKAZE COMPUTER APPS. For those of you who like your writing systems techie AND deadly, check out Write or Die. It's a writing program that literally eats your words if you stop writing. Yikes.
3) NANOWRIMO. You surely know about Nanowrimo, that blissful month of November, where novelists everywhere churn out 1,500 words a day for a full month. It's twin, NAPOWRIMO, happens in April, wherein poets compose a poem a day each day in April. Both have been effective for me. In fact, A FALLING STAR (available for pre-order very soon!) and Song of the Red Cloak were both NANOWRIMO novels. Of course, you don't really have a full novel at the end of NANO, but you do have an excellent start.
4) #AMWRITING. Are you on Twitter? Do you like writerly things? Then you've seen the #amwriting hashtag. Twitter is a great way of holding yourself accountable. I've seen some folks deploy the hashtag with a self-challenge. For example: "I've got two chapters to write in this #WIP. Yell at me if you see me on Twitter, okay? #amwriting." Or some variant of that. It's a public commitment, as I see it, and can be very effective. Check out this list of important hashtags for writers.
5) MDWC (Minimum Daily Word Count). This one. This is it. This is the one that changed everything for me. My friend, author Ash Parsons, came up with it. She sets a Minimum Daily Word Count for herself. The trick is to set it LOW. I set mine at 750. It's a mental thing. I typically can do about 2,000 words a day on a good day. And on a bad day, I'm still well past 750. If it's a truly terrible day, and I only write 600 words, well, that doesn't seem so far from the MDWC. I keep a little sticky note on my computer dashboard with the total words on the project, scratching out and updating at the end of each MDWC session. It may seem like NANOWRIMO, but the difference is that you don't have to do it for a set amount of days, or every day, even. There's flexibility there that I like. I like, too, that I can adjust the MDWC as needed. It helps if a friend is in on it, too. I've had the pleasure of doing MDWCs with Ash, and with Hallie Johnston, another writer. Both have pushed me to finish big projects, and both times, it has felt more like a spoon full of sugar than a chore.
I hope that's helpful to at least a few folks. And whether you're writing novels, or poems, or academic articles, I think all of these could be useful.
I'm open to new ideas, too. I'm about 75 pages into a new novel, and could use all the motivation and accountability tricks you've got in your author's ammunition bunker. Let's hear them!