This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
So, you've got an idea for a book and you've committed to a daily schedule. You've written 30,000 words (or 3000 or 10,000 or 50,000) and then you hit that point. You know the one. The one where everything you write isn't just bad or 'rough draft'; it's a crime against language. The point at which you're questioning your ideas and they all come up short. You're even questioning whether you should be attempting this writing business at all because, surely, it shouldn't be this damn hard.
Suddenly anything seems more fun than working on your book. Your house has never been so clean, you've called all your friends, done your laundry, and you reply to emails within thirty seconds of receiving them.
This is normal.
Take a deep breath. It happens to us all. It doesn't mean that your book isn't good or that your ideas are bad or that you're not 'meant to be' a writer. Writing is hard. The trick is to work through it. The only difference between a person who wants to write a book and a person who has written a book is perseverance.
Whether you have an agent or a publishing contract, are working on your fifth book or your first, the requirement to self-motivate is exactly the same. Here are five tips to keep you putting one word after another:
1. Don't break the chain. This productivity tip, attributed to Jerry Seinfeld, can be summed up like so: you buy (or print out) a calendar, and on every day that you write you put a big red cross in the box. After a while, you'll have a row of crosses and you won't want to 'break the chain' by missing a day. It's quick to do and provides a lovely visual reward (plus, a way of keeping track of your productivity over time).
2. Use lots of rewards. So, write for ten minutes and you can have a cup of tea. Finish the scene you're working on and you can have a biscuit. Write 1000 words and you can watch an episode of your favourite TV series. Write 1000 words every day for six days and you can take the day off on Sunday/buy a book/go abseiling.
3. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes, all I need to do to keep myself typing is to ask the question: Do I want to finish this book?
4. Don't go it alone. Writing is a solitary business, but if you join a writing group (online or locally) or buddy up with a fellow writer, you can take turns to motivate each other. Sometimes just knowing that somebody else is going through the exact same thing as you can be enough to spur you on. If you're the competitive type, setting word count challenges with other people can be good, too.
5. Walk away. Sometimes you need to take a break. Go for a walk, watch a film, read a book. Come back the next day refreshed and raring to go.
[Image credit: Free printable calendar from writersstore.com]