Megan Norris Jones
As an optimist, I assume the best about my writing. Of course I’m writing (almost) every day. Of course my manuscript is coming along beautifully. I’ll be finished in a couple of months.
When I completed WriteOwls’ Write by Midnight in February, the most useful tool in the whole month was the daily writing log. And it’s because I’m an optimist.
When I actually recorded my daily writing progress, I could no longer simply assume the best. If I didn’t write one day, that day had a big blank line beside it. And that objective record forced me to be realistic instead of just optimistic about my writing. Continue reading
For those of you who enjoyed our Write by Midnight writing log, we have tweaked it to be more generic so you can use it for any project you undertake. Click here to access it. We hope it will help you track your progress and stick to the habits you established last month.
Megan Norris Jones
This is the last week of Write by Midnight. My record this month hasn’t been perfect, but, despite numerous family obligations and unexpected responsibilities, I have managed to get up early most mornings and write. I really think I’ve established a habit. Hooray!
But an extra thirty minutes a day, while extremely helpful, won’t get my novel polished and published any time soon. So, as the month comes to a close, I’ve been considering ways to maximize my scarce writing time.
One method I’ve been experimenting with is “mental writing” while I’m engaged in other necessary tasks that require my body but not my mind. You know the ones I mean: washing dishes, folding clothes, walking the dog. I often end a writing session with a problem that I must solve in order to continue. Rather than use my precious writing time to stare at my computer screen and try to figure out what I need to write next, I use my mental writing time to work through the problem so that when I sit down at my computer again, I can dedicate the time to actual writing.
The time I spend outside or exercising seems to be the most effective, and there’s a long tradition of writers using long walks to work through narrative issues, but any time I can squeeze in some extra thought about my own story is helpful. As a result, even if I’m not writing for longer stretches, the time I do spend writing is more efficient.
How do you maximize your own writing time?
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
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.