So you have your ideas down, you’ve done research, you have somewhat of an outline, and you’ve written a chapter or two. Your motivation is carrying you far enough that you can see a story building, and you can proudly scroll through a few pages and see that hard work does pay off. You keep writing, and writing, and writing. Then, you realize it’s been a few days, maybe even a week, and you haven’t written a word. Wait a minute, what happened?
Writing is a ritual. Yes motivation and creativity are important, but they absolutely will not carry you through your novel. You need to transform your desire to write and the creative aspect into a daily motivation. Not the motivation to write, but the motivation to sit down and cultivate your ritual. Think of it like working out, it has to be done a certain amount every day, a number of days a week. Writing is no different. For me, I write two thousand words a day no matter what. I usually write at night, as this is my most calming time, and I punch out those words. Once you decide on a reasonable daily goal for yourself, and you stick to that goal, you won’t have to worry about inspiration or motivation because you will be writing every day no matter what. Yes, this seems like it’s turning your creative passion into a grind, but once you get to the point where it’s a daily occurrence, you won’t even think about that any more. Writing will be like making breakfast or brushing your teeth. It will be an automatic, necessary part of your day that will hopefully occur for the rest of your life.
Now on average, if you were to write two thousand words per day every day, it would take you around three to four months to finish a novel. If you can finish a novel every six months (draft) then you’re still doing fairly well. When you turn writing into a daily habit, you can look forward to your work transforming into something tangible. However even with this daily writing model, make sure you aren’t falling into a rut. Take time to look over your research. If you wrote down some ideas during the work day, make sure to type those up. Try and keep the writing fresh and interesting so that your story moves along. Just make sure that you are writing ever day (but also don’t forget to take holidays, important events, tragedies off).
One of the ways I like to keep my creative edge is by working on multiple projects at once. In the beginning, I would not recommend this. Work on your first draft and turn it into something you are proud of. But after a while, and even sooner than that if you feel your creative edge slipping, try and spread yourself out a little bit. At the moment, I am working on a handful of things: the second draft of a novel/novella, refining a book of epic poetry, and editing the fourth book in my Kognition series. I also periodically write single poetry, short stories, or jot down other ideas as they come to me. If this sounds like a lot to work on, I promise you it’s not. I always feel like I’m not doing enough. But once you get into that daily model of writing habit, you will be aching to do more and more and more. Just make sure you find your balance and don’t bite off too much.
Phew. Okay. Make writing a daily habit. Pick a word count. Meet it. Focus on your creativity. Think about your work. Read over your research. Just make sure that writing is a ritual and a habit, something you cannot do without. The first few days and weeks will be bothersome. Then a month or two will go by, and if you skip a day of writing, you will feel it. Because it’s in you. It’s who you are. Eat, breathe, sleep, write.