Good for you. Get on down with your bad self.
To get in shape, to eat better, to save or make more money, these are almost universal goals for those engaged in the yearly tradition of making New Year's Resolutions. But for most writers, there is usually one additional item on our list: To get more writing done!
Some of you may be thinking: I'd love to get more writing done, but how? There are so many things going on. There's work, there's family, there's...you know, whatever.
It's a valid concern, trust me. I know. But as with any of the other resolutions I mentioned, the key to success in producing more writing is a matter of focus combined with setting realistic expectations, and creating an environment conducive to the mindset you'll need to be in to make writing a habit. Here are a few simple rules you can follow if you wanna be a lean, mean writing machine:
1) AIS - Ass in Seat. It's the number one rule, because...well, it's the number one rule. You'll never get anything done unless you resolve to spend more time at your desk (or the table, or your favorite comfy chair, or wherever you do your business) physically writing. Set a minimum time to write, and make sure you fill that entire time doing nothing else.
2) Minimize distractions. This is a tough one. I write on my laptop. You know what else is on my laptop? Facebook, email, movie review sites, Netflix, cute kitten videos, Youtube, Sudoku, and gossip about whatever any Kardashian is up to lately. Mostly, you just have to power through the temptation to do anything but what you're supposed to be doing. But there are a few tricks to help. Turn off your notifications, so you're not tempted so much. Get yourself a timer, set it with your minimum time to write, and don't leave your work in progress (WIP) until it goes off. Consider writing longhand if you don't now.
3) Set a writing schedule. As with most endeavors, if you do a thing long enough, it becomes a habit. If you write at approximately the same time, for the same length of time every day, writing will become a habit too, one that you'll look forward to doing. And let people know what your schedule is, and that you will not be answering the phone, the doorbell, or any emails during your scheduled writing time. And abide by it!
4) Set a daily goal. Some people set word count goals. Others go by the time spent writing, or some combination of the two. Some writers even go by scene. Whatever method works best for you, set a realistic goal for yourself that will keep your baby moving forward to the writer's two favorite words: The End.
5) Cut yourself some slack. Some days, writing is harder than others. And some stories may be harder to write than others. Sometimes, the words just don't seem to come, and the words that do stink worse than a whole field of cow patties. I've known writers who have gotten so frustrated at their perceived lack of progress that they seriously think of quitting. Don't. The only thing quitting does is guarantee that you won't be published. If you have a bad writing session, that's part of the deal. Figure it out. Maybe you painted yourself into a corner, maybe you're forcing something that doesn't make sense for your story. Maybe your story sucks, and you should just move on. Lord knows that's happened with me. Think objectively and critically as you can about what may be slowing you up, and either fix it or move on. And if, in spite of your best efforts, you checked that one thing on Facebook and 2 hours later, have obsessively watched every video featuring cats, cats with birds, cats with dogs, cats with the farm animals, and cats leaping 8 feet into the air because they've been startled by the cucumber their owners placed on the floor behind them, it's okay. Give yourself a slap on the back of the hand, and get back on the horse the next day.
So, here's to a new year. Make the most of your time.
Maybe this time next year, your new resolution will be to write the sequel to your novel. Wouldn't that be grand?