Even seasoned writers can run into a dry spell when their writing output drops to nothing. It’s even more difficult for most first-time writers. The desire is there, but procrastination, life, and a million other things can get in the way of getting words out of your head and onto the paper or computer screen. While quality writing is the goal, if you aren’t writing anything at all, you’ll never have anything to polish. There are several ways to kick up your writing output that can get you on track.
Have Short-Term Writing Goals
It’s easy to say to yourself, “I’m busy today, so I’ll write tomorrow.” If you don’t have any set writing goals, it’s easy to let things slide. To stop procrastinating, give yourself specific writing targets, such as a certain number of pages a day at least five days a week. When you have concrete goals that are easily attainable, you chip away at your writing, and it soon becomes a habit.
Be sure to start small, perhaps just a page or two a day, then build as you pick up momentum. Keep the deadlines short term (writing five or ten pages a day, not finishing a novel in a month) so that you aren’t overwhelmed. If a page count or word count doesn’t work for you, set a time limit such as an hour of writing each evening. Whatever method gets you writing instead of thinking about writing!
Taking breaks sounds counterintuitive, but burn-out is detrimental to writing. While you should devote yourself to keeping on track with your goals, building in the occasional break can give you a fresh perspective and renew your enthusiasm. The key is to tie your breaks to milestones. You may want to take a few days off from writing each time you reach a major turning point in your narrative or every 10,000 words. When you come back to your writing routine, you’ll be recharged and ready to go.
Don’t Expect Perfect Writing If You Want to Increase Writing Output
It’s easy to get caught up in polishing every sentence until it shines, but you may end up with a few beautiful sentences and never get any farther. When you write, take off your editor’s cap. While it’s tempting to edit as you go, it will slow you down. No matter how much you edit as you write, you have to do it again when your manuscript is finished. Don’t waste precious writing time stuck on edits. Get the words down now and worry about polishing later. Consistent writing output helps you improve your focus and gives you impetus.
Join a Writer’s Group
Writing can be a solitary endeavor, making it easy to put things on hold when writing gets frustrating or tricky. Many authors join writers’ groups for this reason. Regular get-togethers, whether in person or virtually, provide accountability and can help increase your writing output. When you know you are expected to have something new for others to read and critique, you’re motivated to put in your best effort and make the time. It’s also a great way to encourage others while getting encouragement from them. The momentum can feed your enthusiasm for writing even when you may be struggling with a plot point or the structure of your book.
Finally, remember the adage, “Fake it ‘til you make it.” Although some days you may not write anything worthwhile, writing anything is better than writing nothing at all. At some point, the dross will become gold.
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