Challenge Yourself: Getting Words Written
The third blog in the challenge series by DragonSoulJess
Getting words written sounds easy. You either pick up your pen or put fingers to the keyboard and you write. But in reality, it isn’t quite that simple. To get words out, the first step usually isn’t in writing; it’s in giving yourself a reason to write them. After all, who wants to read something if you didn’t want to write it?
But how do you give yourself a reason to write? Firstly, you have to be working on a story you’re interested in. This is where the often-recurring advice comes in: don’t write something because you think it will be popular. Do it because you want to. You need to enjoy the story you’re writing. Of course, there might be points at which you don’t really want to write, and sometimes you’ll have to get on with it. But if getting words down permanently feels like a chore, there’s a good chance something’s wrong. Take a step back. Why aren’t you enjoying it? Figure out why, and sort that problem out.
Normally, this problem should reveal itself as you think about it, but if you’re struggling with this and you need help figuring out why you’re not enjoying writing, tag me in the comments @DragonSoulJess, or seek advice in the #ChallengeYourself group!
So you have your interest, but what next? Sure, your unwritten novel is great – but so is every book on your bookcase, and you should probably read all of them again, right? There are a few ways to tackle the urge to procrastinate, and it’s all about finding the method that works best for you.
One way to get yourself to stop procrastinating and actually write is to organise yourself. Set yourself a daily goal. This could be time-based (for example, telling yourself to write for an hour), word-count-based (maybe you want to write 1000 words), or you could set yourself a goal based on content (getting to a particular point in your story).
If you work well under pressure, you could do a word count sprint with another writer to see who can write the most in a certain amount of time. This could be fifteen minutes, an hour, or even a day. Figure out what works best for you, and go with it. If you’ve got a competitive spirit, word count racing might be a good way to punch some more words into your novel, and to find a partner to race against, you could search for somebody in the #ChallengeYourself group or post a mumble asking for a sparring partner. And if you can’t find anybody? Time yourself, record your personal best, and then work super-hard to beat it next time!
Of course, the two methods above don’t work for everybody, but here are some useful tips that could help you regardless. One good idea is to reward yourself. You can read for ten minutes if you write for twenty, maybe, or you can eat some more chocolate if you reach the end of this chapter. (If you’re the sort of person who will take your reward before earning it, give it to a friend or a family member and tell them to give it to you when you reach your goal.) Another good idea? Every day, try to finish writing just before an exciting point; this way, you’ll be super-pumped to keep writing the next day.
Sometimes, it’ll be a struggle, but you just have to sit down and write. You can do it, without a doubt. It might sound difficult, but you either write or you don’t, and if you want something written, the former is the only way forwards.
Having said that, there can be moments of difficulty, but for every problem, there’s a solution. Here are a few to push you along!
If you’re struggling with a particular scene, there are a few options. You could make a few notes, jotting down what’s on your mind, before skipping ahead to the next scene. You can fill in the blanks later, when you’re feeling more refreshed and can figure out why those parts weren’t working. Personally, I like to write chronologically, so I try to figure things out systematically before I move on. I’ll grab a notebook and jot all the details down, working through the aspects of this part of the story. This usually ends well, and I figure out the problem, which often involves getting a character from Point A to Point B in the plot, in an emotional state of wellbeing, or sometimes even in a conversation.
Stepping back can also help with any problems. Sometimes refreshing your mind can clear everything up and let your thoughts settle down a little. And very often, reading will remind you of how awesome writing can be, which in turn might give you that extra kick you needed. Taking a break might seem counterproductive, but it often helps in the long run.
And finally, we have that hideous demon we all have to face: the self-doubt. Am I good enough? This writing is terrible, isn’t it? Should I stop writing? The answers? Yes, no, and no. Just work on the first draft, and get the words down. You’ve already done something huge. You’re creating something from nothing, and you’re being brave enough to put this creation on a page. And who cares if your first draft isn’t as good as all of the published books you’ve read? First drafts are allowed to be messy. You’re allowed to lose yourself in the story and ignore how good the writing is. You can edit later, but for now, you’re awesome, and you should keep writing, learning, and developing. Because you’re a writer, aren’t you? So write! Write fearlessly, write bravely, and – no matter how many lies that self-doubt whispers - write because you want to, and because you are, undoubtedly, an amazing author already in the making.