Don’t fret if you’re having trouble coming up with the perfect words during the Write by Midnight challenge. The important thing is to spend time writing or improving your work-in-progress. Placeholder sentences are the saving grace for many writers during the first draft. When you know what needs to happen but inspired prose fails you, flag the spot with a symbol like a double hashtag or ampersand – something that’s easily searchable later – and tell what you want to show. Then move on. You can revisit the phrasing when inspiration strikes or during the editing phase.
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Setting a timer helps many writers become more productive. Start with a short period of time – anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. When time’s up, take an even shorter break – anywhere from five to 10 minutes. During the break, do something physical. Taking a short walk, grabbing a bite to eat, dancing to your favorite song, even household chores will get the blood pumping, stimulate your senses and rejuvenate you for your next writing stretch. Avoid tasks like watching television, reading a book, checking social media, surfing the web – they’re apt to sap your focus away from the story in your head.
When your break is over, reset the timer and repeat. Try extending the writing time to break time ratio. If you wrote for 15 minutes and took a 5-minute break, try writing for 30 minutes with a 10-minute break. Keep tweaking the ratio until you find the most productive method for you.
Few people like to look another person in the eye and admit they’ve failed, especially if that person is someone who is depending on you or views you as a role model. That’s one reason experts recommend that you find someone to hold you accountable when you’re trying to reach a goal. Continue reading
The way to tackle a big project is to chip away at it a little bit every day. If you only write 300 words per day, you can finish a draft of a middle grade novel in four and a half months. At that same rate, you could complete a first draft of a young adult novel in six to nine months.
February’s Write by Midnight challenge is the perfect time to start that daily writing habit that will get you to “THE END.”
Write by Midnight, our annual challenge to help you establish a daily writing habit, starts Feb. 1. That’s this Thursday. Now is the time to get your plan ready, your space ready and your head ready.
Start by re-reading your work in progress. Assess what you already have on the page and what you still need to accomplish. Make a plan for what you want to achieve over the month. Break it down into reasonable daily and weekly writing goals. Then put those goals in writing and post them somewhere you will see them every morning.
Next, turn your attention to the place you plan to write. Grab a trash can and recycling bin and clear the space of clutter. Stock up on any supplies you might need: pencils, printer paper, highlighters, sticky notes, notebooks and index cards. Download that new writing program you’ve been wanting to incorporate into your routine and learn how to use it now so you don’t waste precious time revisiting the tutorial. Figure out how you want to track your progress and have those tools at the ready. (Feel free to use our printable writing log, which you can download here.) Making your space free of distraction will help you focus on reaching your writing goals.
Once your space is ready, get your head in the game. Remind yourself of the things you love about your story. Talk about your project and goals with an enthusiastic supporter. Set yourself up for success by remembering that you are a writer. Say it out loud and often.