It’s almost July which means it’s almost Camp Nanowrimo time WHICH MEANS it’s time for me to attempt another post that inspires both you and myself to actually write! This pandemic is a weird and strange time, and I know that I’ve been having more difficulty in motivating myself to write (and even read!) than in the past. The days are passing by in a blur, and I imagine a lot of you feel the same.
Figuring out a writing routine is a constant experiment, and I know this pandemic has made it even more of a struggle, so here are some tips that I’m currently trying and that I hope will also be helpful for you!
1. Find an Accountability Partner!
This doesn’t necessarily have to be a writing buddy or a writing group, but find someone in your household (or someone you can socially distance with) with whom you can arrange work sessions. It doesn’t matter what the other person is working on, as long as you can each motivate each other to be productive! And if you don’t have someone in person you can meet with, find an online writing group that hosts regular writing sessions together! Participating in challenges like Camp Nano (which let’s you personalize your goal!) is a great way to find a community and organized writing times.
2. Bribery and Rewards
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: bribe and reward yourself for sitting down to write! One of my favorite foods is honeycomb cereal, and I only let myself eat it when I’m writing (or working on job apps, lol). So when I’m craving the cereal, I have to be productive, or find something (hopefully) healthier to eat (a win-win, right?). When I’m all filled up on cereal, I’ll motivate myself to write with coffee, tea, bubble tea, sparkling water, beer, or wine. (If you’re 21+, remember to drink responsibly!)
Like my Labrador, I am very food-motivated, which is why my examples are all edible, but the bribes and rewards you use don’t have to be food-related! Instead, you could institute bigger rewards, like finally buying yourself a gift (or doing a fun activity!) after reaching so many words or days of writing in a row.
I also understand that not everyone has the means to go out and spend money on bribes or rewards, so another option could be rearranging your schedule: allow writing time to ‘unlock’ another part of your day e.g. “I can only watch the next episode in my TV show after I’ve written.”
3. Make a Goal or Plan, and Keep a Record!
Depending on how you are, this may or may not work for you. Personally, I like to stay organized and have some semblance of a plan of attack. The first step is to have a goal. Currently, my plan is to see if I can revamp an old novel idea from a couple years ago, so my goal is to complete a 50K first draft during July for Camp Nano! And even better yet if your goal has a deadline! (Trust me: goals & deadlines are powerful tools.)
In addition to having a goal, make sure you have a way to track and record your writing. This could involve check lists, a habit tracker app, a bullet journal, or simply recording your daily progress on a loose piece of paper. Personally, I find it so satisfying to check off items from a bullet list. Or if you do Camp NaNo, to watch your progress chart go up each day. (Yes, I keep pushing Camp Nano, but that’s because my Camp NaNo participation has always led to my most productive writing months and I will never stop recommending it to others.)
There’s also the issue of whether you’re a plotter, pantser, or a plantser (a mix of the two). I’m definitely a plantser; I need a base outline/plan, but it can’t be too rigid or I’ll get stressed: I need the flexibility to also find my story. Again, the key is experimentation, and finding which one works best for you! Don’t be afraid of trying new prep methods! Currently, I’ve been creating character profiles to get to know my characters better.
4. Experiment, and find a location and time of day to works best for you
Routines are a great way to make sure you’re regularly implementing writing into your daily/weekly life, so take the time and experiment to see what time of day is most productive for you!
And if your current writing space isn’t working, try new locations! Test out different chairs, rooms, or even try going outside! Depending on where you live, going to coffee shops, libraries, or parks may not be an option. If you find going out works best for you, make sure to wear a mask, stay distant from others, sanitize, and to change your clothes/shower afterwards! Of course, I would recommend trying to stay on your own property before going out and risking your own health and other’s!
Lately, I’m been trying to write outdoors and actually use the furniture on my deck, so I’ve also been experimenting with time periods in the morning and evening.
5. Arm up with Writing Gear
I think this is especially important during a pandemic; dress to impress yourself, but also make sure you’re comfortable! On days I’m hoping to write, or I know I’ll be meeting with my writing buddy, I’ll usually try to wear one of my bookish t-shirts, or one of my writing totems (a writing totem is an article of clothing you only wear while writing to singal to yourself you’re leaving reality and entering a different frame of mind). Wear whatever you can that makes you happy, comfortable, and productive!
6. Start Small, and Be Kind to Yourself
We’re already in a pandemic/quarantine and full of more crazy and ugly emotions than usual, so don’t give yourself unnecessary stress. Start small, and aim to write a sentence or for 10 minutes a day–whatever works best for you. And be kind to yourself when you struggle; you and your mental, emotional, and physical health are important.
For more writing inspiration or ideas on how to motivate yourself, check out these other posts I’ve written over the last couple of years: Inspirational Writing Quotes, How to Motivate Yourself to Write, Writing Encouragement from the Midst of Camp NaNo, and Tips from Taking a Novel Writing Class.