It’s February and if you set a New Year resolution to write a novel (or you’re midway through your current work-in-progress) it could be that your initial burst of enthusiasm is starting to wane. But don’t worry, that’s totally normal. We can help you get back into your writing groove.
Every writer is different. Whatever you’re trying to balance your writing with – day job, caring responsibilities, a hyperactive spaniel (like mine!), the general pressures of modern life – spending a few minutes thinking about when you write at your best can help you make the most of every minute of your writing time.
Question one: Are you a Lark or an Owl?
When do you feel at your most energised – start of the day, end of the day, somewhere in-between your third and fourth cup of coffee? Whenever it is, try to schedule writing around those times to maximise your creativity and wordcount. I’m a lark, so I get up an hour earlier than I need to (usually around 5.30/6am) and get straight to work.
Question two: Do you write better in silence or noise?
If you’re a silence kind of person and your only chance to write is on the train ride into the office then invest in some noise cancelling headphones. If you need background noise but write alone then get out to your local coffee shop or invest in an ambient noise playlist. Or, if you like listening to music as you write, hit play and start typing. I preference silence, but I’m okay with ambient noise too which is lucky as I do a lot of writing on the train.
Question three: What gets you into the mood for writing?
I prefer a strong coffee (or two or three) but this is all about what works for you. Create your environment to fuel your creativity – light a scented candle, have an object or picture on your desk that is linked to your story, wear the clothes of your protagonist – anything goes! Think about your most productive writing sessions – what helped you that day? And recreate it.
Question four: What’s your favourite equipment?
I use word documents, but there are all manner of ways to write. You can go old school with a notebook and pen, or use specialist software like Scrivener. Use a dictation package like Dragon, or write on a tablet or smartphone. Whatever feels right for you is right.
Question five: What’s your goal?
Setting goals helps you stay on track. Writing a novel is a big goal, so breaking it down into smaller chunks can make it feel a lot less daunting. Are you a daily, weekly or monthly wordcount ninja? Do you count your progress in scenes or chapters? Whatever works for you, set your goal and track your progress. I set a weekly wordcount goal and track progress by jotting done the running total in my diary each evening.
Question six:How much time can you commit to writing?
Be realistic, life can be hectic so even if you what to spend all your time writing the chances are you won’t manage to. Instead set yourself up for success with regular ‘writing dates with yourself’ – even if it’s fifteen minutes a day, or a couple of hours each weekend, those minutes and hours will gradually add up into a book – the most important thing is to keep writing and stay connected to your story. Every time you write you’ll be getting a step closer to the reality of having achieved your main goal – a finished novel draft.
Make a note of your answers. Work out how you can use them to create your best writing, and good luck.
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