This is a guest post by Jace McCoy/ When first starting out, new writers tend to have illusions of grandeur. They believe that they’ll simply sit with their favorite word processor open and the words will magically appear. Or worse yet, they believe that their manuscript will be done overnight.
Sooner or later reality sets in and the writers find that their projects are far more encompassing than once imagined. They find themselves making more excuses as to why they are unable to write. Days become months and months become years before they’re able to realize that they’ve lost the prize.
How do you know if your writing is on the back burner? Here are some common signs:
- If you haven’t written in the last 3-7 days
- If you watch television vs reading a book
- If you find yourself on the internet instead of writing
- If you forgotten the names of the characters in your manuscript
- If you feel like a failure. Your writing will never be good enough; so why even try?
- If you cant remember the last time you read a book.
- Excuses, Excuses, Excuses….
Let’s face it: while writing can be fun, it is, in fact, still a profession. You won’t see Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, or James Patterson making excuses. Too often we get bogged down by her own thoughts, desires and fears. Below I will share 5 steps to help you reach your writing goals. While they won’t change your thought process overnight; they will help establish basic stepping stones to your success as a writer.
1. Read books in your genre
The founder of Writer On The Verge said it perfectly:
“Writing is a reading process.” – Jace McCoy
Not only should you read daily but reading should become your primary form of entertainment. Your mind becomes more productive and you’re actively taking steps towards learning your craft. By reading books from the genre you write, you subconsciously learn the form, structure, and character development required for that specific genre.
To help take it one step further and to develop your voice as an author, you should actively read books from writers you admire. Preferably ones that write within the genre you plan on writing for. But by no means should you try and copy a specific author. You have your own voice. Don’t be afraid to use it.
2. Write everyday
Really it doesn’t get much easier than this. You, as a writer, should make it your top priority to write something every single day. And I’m not talking about text messages, IMs, e-mails, or shopping lists. It doesn’t matter what you write as long as it has to weight. There’s a reason why most writers and authors have journals. Within the binding of their journals writers are free to write the most awe-inspiring prose or the worst garbage in the world. It doesn’t matter either way because what they have written is important to themselves. So take some time out of your day to sit down and simply write.
3. Set attainable goals
The most common mistake inspiring writers make is setting absurd goals. Particularly those doed eyed writers just starting out. But take it from me, writing is a process in and of itself without the added pressures of unattainable goals.
It is important when first starting out as a writer to take small steps toward the main goal at hand: getting published. If this means you are only able to write 50 words a day; that’s great. Or if a busy work schedule keeps you bogged down leaving you unable to work on your MS then just take 10-15 mins and write whatever your heart desires. The main thing is to not get your self worked up to a point where your goals become counter productive.
Some simple goals to start with are:
- Compose 100 words in a day
- Write a scene
- Do a writing sprint and write anywhere from 5-30 mins without stopping
And remember the most important thing is to build upon your previous goals. For instance, you may have written 100 words yesterday therefore today you should up the ante to say 120-150 words. This will ensure that you are making progress in regards to your goals and honing your skills as a writer.
4. Take a break
You’ve spent the time building your daily word count to 1,000 words. But now your finding it harder and harder to sit there and continue writing. Do yourself a favor and take a break. Not only should you take a break but you should do so frequently. Why? Because the longer we sit in one place the more likely it is that our mind will begin to wander. Then before you know it all we can think about is what else we could be doing. I personally take a break about every 500 words. Or sometimes I will do sprints ensuring I get frequent breaks. The best part is that during your breaks you will inevitably do those things that tend to distract you from writing. Thus ensuring that the only thing on your mind when writing is the task at hand.
5. Find what works for you
What works for me may not work for you. So take the time to find what works for you. And don’t be afraid to make it fun. Try experiencing different techniques in writing. Use the resources at your disposal to enhance and hone your craft. Whether it’s reading books on writing, joining a writing group, networking with fellow writers, or just good old experimenting. Have fun and do what works for you. As a writer always remember that your main objective should be to write. It doesn’t matter how you write as long as you write.
AND AS ALWAYS, GOOD LUCK. YOU CAN DO THIS!
This article was written by:
Jace McCoy is the founder of the webs newest writing resource Writer On The Verge. He spends most of his time writing and is currently writing his first novel; a sci-fi epic set in a world rebuilding after a worldwide holocaust. If you would like to connect with him personally you can follow him @JaceMccoy. Or better yet join him at @WriterOn for all your writing needs. And don’t forget to subscribe here.
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