It feels so good to be a published author. I can’t put the feeling into words. If you had told me a year ago that I’d be where I am now, I might have laughed at you. Back then, I had a difficult time staying productive and motivated to put words on the page each and every day. That’s not to say I still don’t have that problem—I’ve just found some ways to move past it.
This month is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which means many people are setting out to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 short days. Trust me when I say that it can be done, no matter how impossible it seems! Still, in order to cross the finish line, you’ll have to do battle with the monsters of procrastination and lack of motivation. Luckily, I’ve managed to slay both of those beasts, and today I want to share some of my tips with you.
- Write or Die. Coincidentally, I’m writing this blog post using Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die program. If you’ve never heard of it before, Write or Die is a web-based program that nags you to keep writing. If you find yourself getting distracted or taking ages to meet daily word counts, this program may be indispensable. Since I started using it, I think I’ve seen a tenfold increase in overall writing productivity. Settings-wise, I recommend trying Normal Mode and Strict Grace Period, with a goal of 300 words every 15 minutes (something I borrowed from author K.M. Weiland). Try out a couple of different presets to discover what works best for you. Seriously, though, if it weren’t for Write or Die, I never would have gotten Blood and Water written.
- Establish a compelling “why.” If you want to write a book or just write something every day, you need to have a reason why. It’s not enough to write because someone is pressuring you to or because you feel like you “should”—you have to find something personally rewarding about it, otherwise you’ll never feel motivated to get the work done. Regardless of your rationale, make sure you know exactly why you want to sit down with your writing each day.
- Track your progress. I love progress bars, leveling up, and tracking my progress in general. For all my daily tasks, to-dos, and habits, I use Habitica. It’s a RPG-style productivity app that earns you experience points for doing real-world things like cleaning the house and meeting daily word counts. There have been many times I wanted to sit on my butt, and then realized how close I was to leveling up, so I went ahead and did some work. Trust me when I say that this app can change your life. Another great way to stay motivated is by tracking your writing stats. Scrivener will do this for you, but if you want more, check out NaNoWriMo’s word count feature (for the month of November), this nifty progress bar, or (my current favorite) MyWriteClub, which I learned about from Ava Jae. I love watching the progress bar move as I update my word count each day!
- Find a writing buddy. Writing can be a lonely endeavor, but you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) go it alone. I talked about this idea in my most recent vlog. One of the best ways to ensure that you stay on track with your writing goals is to enlist the help of buddies or accountability partners. You can encourage each other, check in, and send updates on your progress. You’d be surprised how much of a difference this strategy makes! If you need a buddy, feel free to add me on NaNoWriMo or MyWriteClub—I’d love to help encourage you!
- Treat yourself. If you haven’t seen the Parks and Recreation episode this notion comes from, watch it now. I’ll wait. Rewarding yourself for a job well done is absolutely vital to your progress as a writer. When I finally finished formatting and publishing Blood and Water, I went out and got my nails done. It made me feel fantastic—I never get my nails done—and helped motivate me to start working on my next project. Set up little rewards for daily, weekly, and monthly project goals. Choose things that you don’t do or buy for yourself every day so that you always have something to look forward to.
No matter how you choose to stay motivated and productive, it’s important to find something that works best for your unique process. Feel free to give these suggestions and try and let me know what you think! And if you have any other tips or advice for staying motivated while writing, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!
Briana Morgan is YA and NA writer, editor, and blogger who loves dark, suspenseful reads, angst-ridden relationships, and complicated characters. Her interest in Jay Gatsby scares her friends and family. You can find her in way too many places online, eating too much popcorn, reading in the corner, or crying about long-dead literary heroes. Visit her website at www.brianamaemorgan.com.