Tag Archives: writing habits

Write Every Day, or Maybe Not

Stacey Kite

Stacey Kite

We’ve all heard the advice “write every day,” and it’s the base goal of the Write by Midnight challenge: to establish a daily writing habit. But one thing I’ve seen in the first three weeks of WBM is that I am a yo-yo writer.

One day my production is great—600 words plus at a rate of better than 450 words/hour, and I easily surpass my 500 word/day goal. But then the next day’s word count is dismal. (I mean really dismal, like 35 words in two hours.) Then it’s back up to OK the following day. A graph of production looks like a schizophrenic EKG. Continue reading

Write by Midnight Mid-Point

WriteOwls

WriteOwls

We’re halfway through Write by Midnight. Are you halfway to reaching your monthly writing goals? If so, congratulations! Give yourself a reward and keep it up!

If not, there’s still plenty of time to up your output. Creating a new habit can be tough, and you should expect a bit of floundering in the beginning. Reasses your process and schedule to find what’s working and what’s not, and use that information to adjust for the second half of Write by Midnight.

And don’t forget to reward yourself for the successes you have had. If you’re writing more now than you were before Feb. 1, that’s progress. If your average daily word count has gone up in the last two weeks, that’s progress.

Writing a novel is a long-haul game; celebrate every success you have—especially all of the little ones.

How Do I Know If I’m Making Any Progress?

Megan Norris Jones

Megan Norris Jones

Write by Midnight is designed to help us all establish a daily writing routine, and I’ve really appreciated the structure and accountability it’s given me so far. Last week I bragged about my perfect track record for getting up and writing every morning. This week I have to confess that I missed a couple of days. But I’m back at my desk again, hammering out words.

It’s easy to track my progress when I’m drafting a story, but now that I’m revising, it’s more difficult to know if I’ve made any headway or not. How can I measure? I’m still working at the macro level where I’m fixing my plot and character arc. I haven’t made it down to the scene-by-scene sharpening the words level, so I don’t think number of scenes revised is a good measurement. Maybe I should count the number of minutes spent staring at the screen? The number of epiphanies about what my problem actually is and how I should fix it? And does it still count if today’s epiphany turns out to be a stupid idea tomorrow?

During the past two weeks, I probably made the most significant progress in the book not while grimly staring at my computer screen but while mulling over a plot problem as I dried my hair. Maybe it was the white noise. Maybe the absence of pressure. Or maybe I had just been thinking about this one problem long enough and in enough different settings that an answer finally emerged. Now it’s time to sit back down at my desk and try out this solution I’ve discovered. I’m praying it stays firmly in the realm of epiphany.

How do you know if you’re making any progress during revision?

One Week Down, Three to Go

WriteOwls

WriteOwls

We are now one week into the Write by Midnight writing challenge. How is it going so far? Are you meeting your goals? Take a minute today to review your writing log and see what’s working and what isn’t.

Maybe you haven’t met your daily goal yet. If not, it’s time to readjust either your goal or your strategy—or both! The important thing is that you keep writing until you figure out what works best for you. Our goal is to create a sustainable writing routine, so don’t be afraid of a little experimentation.

If you are meeting your daily goals, good job! Keep it up, and by the end of the month, you will have a new writing habit to propel you through a successful year.

4 Tips for Waking Up Early to Write

Megan Norris Jones

Megan Norris Jones

My goal for our Write by Midnight challenge has been to wake up early and get an extra thirty minutes of writing time a day. I am not naturally a morning person, so this has really been a challenge, but I’m happy to report that I’ve been able to write every morning for the past week. I feel like I need some sort of early bird pin to proudly display my achievement.

If you’re hoping to work in some early morning writing time, too, here are a few of the techniques that have made it work for me.

1. Tell people.
There’s no motivation like the shame of having to admit that you were a lazy slug who burrowed under the covers instead of getting up to accomplish the writing goal you have announced is so important to you. I told you on this blog, announced it to Twitter, and told the friends and family members I see every day. So I basically have to get up.

2. Remind yourself.
In the wee hours, when it’s still dark outside and my bed is so cozy, I often have no idea why I set my alarm so early. So I hit snooze without waking properly and then kick myself when I’m finally awake enough to remember, “Oh, yeah, I really want to finish my novel.” My solution? I simply title the alarm on my cell phone “Finish this draft by X date” or “It’s time to Write by Midnight.” That last one has been especially effective this month because it reintroduces the shame motivator of #1 (see above).

3. Go to bed on time.
Sleep deprivation is bad for you. If you’re going to get up earlier, you have to go to sleep earlier. You can get by on coffee and determination for a while, but eventually, you will burn out. We’re trying to establish a sustainable habit. So sustain yourself with adequate sleep. And write.

4. Use a gradual wakeup pre-alarm.
Five minutes before I actually want to get up, I set an alarm that plays soothing music. It’s fairly loud, so it wakes me up, but it’s soothing, so I don’t feel the need to turn it off, and I get to experience the lovely feeling of snuggling down under the covers and knowing it’s not time to get up yet. By the time my real alarm goes off, I’m awake enough to remember why I wanted to get up at this terrible hour to begin with, so I actually get up. There are also various apps that monitor your sleep and wake you at the best time, but this approach works for me.

In case you’re wondering, my musical selection is “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy. It’s starts soft but builds to a climax just as I’m needing to get up. It was also part of the soundtrack at the end of the movie Ocean’s 11, when they’ve successfully stolen millions and are basking in their accomplishment while gazing at the fountains of the Bellagio in Las Vegas. It’s nice to bask.

What are your tricks for waking up early to write?