Monday, November 18, 2019

5 Tips for Jumpstarting Your Writing Goals

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We have all been there. We make so much progress on a project and then we run out of steam for some reason. Our attention wanders to other projects or we find ourselves binge watching Season 8 of American Horror Story when we should be writing (don't ask). Here are 4 tips for jumpstarting your writing goals when you find yourself in a bit of a rut.

1. Lower your daily writing goals temporarily. Everyone who knows me knows that I have daily writing goals and that I am pretty religious about meeting them. However, when I get in a rut, I lower my goal so that I can still make progress and feel accomplished. We can't force the writing when it just won't land on the page. But we can certainly nudge it along by sticking to some type of writing goal. When I am feeling a bit blah, I lower my 1000 word goal by 250 words. By doing so, I acknowledge the challenges I am feeling but I still advance the project in some way. About half the time I still get to over 1000 words. But it feels good to give yourself a break now and again. Just don't make it a habit. Also, try to overachieve on the days when you are feeling productive to try to make up for any major challenges in your overall manuscript due date.

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2. Go on a mini writer's retreat. I love to write in my home office where I am surrounded by books and good 19th century German classical music (right now I am on a Schumann kick). However, when I know I am stuck, I force myself to go to our local library (thank you Port Washington Public Library) or to a coffee shop. Once I am there, I actually increase my writing goal by several hundred words. I find it is easier to make major progress in a new place. It stimulates the brain to be in a new location and you are not tempted by your normal distractions in your work or home office. Do something special for yourself during this little retreat. Indulge in a special coffee drink or read a magazine on a break you would not normally read. Find a way to make the time not only productive, but special.

3. Turn off your Internet. I know that this can sometimes be problematic. We rely so much on the Internet for research these days. I find myself frequently checking on some specific date or fact when I am writing. However, it is also extremely easy to get distracted by all that is available on the Web. It won't kill you to shut it down for an hour or two so that you can get your writing goals done for the day. If you need to look something up, make a note of it and return to it after you complete your goals and you turn your Internet back on.

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4. Use the Pomodoro method. I have written about this technique before on this blog here. Trust me, it works. Use it to stay focused.

5. Enhance your outline. One of the biggest problems I have in not making a writing goal is futzing with my outlines. Often I get to a point in a document when I realize my outline is insufficient for what I am trying to communicate. Sometimes I can write through this challenge without causing problems for my daily goals. However, many times I need to stop and think through how to revise the outline to make sure I am following a logical train of thought. Sometimes I leave that part of the project for later and write another piece of it just so it doesn't slow me down. The problem would have been avoided if I had a better outline. I strongly advise working on the next day's outline after completing the day's writing goals. You can start to frame the writing in your head subconsciously and you can tweak the problem areas before you run into them when you are doing the actual writing.

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