2017 is here people! It came by so quickly. If you’d blinked you would have missed it. I actually fell asleep on the settee at 11pm – which makes me officially
boring responsible as I had work the following day. 2016 hasn’t been the year most people wanted – I for one let it slip by without much progress. There were too many excuses at hand. I was tired, I was busy, I was working the ‘day job’, Brexit … let’s not go there shall we?
I haven’t set myself new year’s resolutions as such, but I have put a plan in place to give myself a kick up the backside and get back into a fluent, smooth writing process. 2016 was the year for writing in dribs and drabs, writing only when I felt like it. This year I will force myself to try new things and write like a writer should.
And hopefully I want you guys to do the same. Because writers should be doing exactly that – WRITING.
I know what you are thinking – I do. Time is the bane of every writer. There just doesn’t seem to be enough of it. We could all band together and suggest inventing an extra two hours a day on Dragon’s Den or something. A 26 hour day; how does that sound? But short of that we need to use the extra oomph and spirit we all seem to get at the beginning of the year and put it to good use.
We need a plan.
I’ve made a plan. I have, honest. And it goes a little something like this:
- Set the alarm early – an extra 1 hour 30 mins to be precise.
- Set another alarm for exactly two mins after that, because I was the reason the snooze button was invented.
- Make coffee, turn on computer, and sit bum on chair.
- Write for exactly 1 hour – do not do a word count. It’s counterproductive.
And there we go. Simple, right? I know!
I realised that I am not an ‘after work’ writer. What I mean by this is that I am so tired after work I feel as if I wouldn’t be able to write productively. And mirroring that, I am not a morning person either. But once I’ve had a coffee I can function – I’m good to go. I give myself roughly 15 – 20 minutes to roll out of bed and get myself that coffee. Once they are under control, I really am good to go. I have a quick read of what I did the previous day … you know, to get myself back into the groove. I crack my knuckles, I really do. I then type.
I know you know what I’m getting at here. We writers tend to make every excuse in the book, but deep down we realise that to get writing we need to make time to write. The excuses need to stop.
If you write better in the evening, put the kids to bed and put aside that hour to write. The washing up can wait until the morning. If you are a morning person, set that alarm early and get writing. If you write on a laptop take it upstairs with you before bed so it is ready for you in the morning. Put it on your bedside cabinet or just underneath the bed so it can be easily reached – that way you can trick yourself that you’re not really getting out of bed.
DO NOT CHECK SOCIAL MEDIA
This is really important. Banish it. Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, whatever the new craze will be this year – do not go on it until the hour is up. You can easily set another alarm for when the hour is up. Trust me, the cute cat videos and the funny kid swearing at her parents video can wait. If you love social media, that can be your reward for completing the hour.
What do you need to do to get writing? Huge complicated plans aren’t necessary. Hell, plans tend to take all your effort and you don’t end up sticking to the bloomin’ thing anyway. See mine above? It’s simple and it’s all you really need.
What is getting in your way? Do you socialise in the evening or spend time with your loved one? Tell them your passions and dreams of being a writer, of completing that first novel, of a brand new idea that sure to be the one. Let them see what it means to you and explain that they’ll have to wait for that one hour a night. If they love you and support you they’ll happily leave you alone.
Have writers’ block? I’m afraid we’ve all been there. But again … there is only one simple solution. You have to write yourself out of the block. If it’s rubbish, full of errors, and not really coherent, it doesn’t matter. It’s a process. It’s a way of getting you from A to B. You can flesh it out later. You can fix the grammar and the spelling mistakes later. You need to free your mind and just write. Ideas flow from writing – I mean hell, I suddenly think of brand new ideas and other fabby things while I’m in the middle of writing something else. I simply have to push it aside and tell it to wait.
Stay strong with the new routine. If like me you are going to set an alarm early, well, it will be difficult. Your body will want sleep. After the first couple of sessions you’ll start to feel the extra push. But STAY STRONG. STICK WITH IT. I mean the first week could be enough to make you cry and revert back, but it will get easier. The writing will come. Your mind will wake quicker, your ideas and plan will be easier to express without struggling to think of how to phrase this sentence or word.
And at the end of the month, or the end of three months, or even a year … you’ll have a first draft. An odd, clumsy, error strewn first draft. But a first draft nonetheless that you can shower with love. You can nourish each chapter with knowledge of what follows.
Make 2017 the year you change the excuses into a proactive routine. I believe you can do it. Be sure to let me know your goals and ways to improve your writing 2017. You can tweet me @dan_pentagram