• Wind down. The stress of the day stays in your system until you give yourself time to detox. Do something relaxing, even if that means scrolling a few pages on your dash – but be careful, because Tumblr and other social media sites are time thieves. Two hours later, you’ll realize you’re on page twenty of your dash and still on page 1 of your story.
  • Wind up. Spend some time getting yourself into the mood. Look at awesome art, play the right music for the right scene, doodle, even if your doodles suck. Sometimes windup time is also taking a shower or folding the laundry – mindless chores where you can let yourself immerse your brain in your story and get excited again.
  • First drafts suck. “I wrote too much of [thing]” or “My opening is just not working” or “I hate every word of it” are all legitimate thoughts, but leave all that in the past. It’s done. When you finish, you can go back and revise all you want (and you might even find that the beginning isn’t as bad as you initially thought). What matters is not the quality, but finishing. Give yourself permission to suck.
  • Gain momentum. For me, the first few minutes of writing are absolutely agonizing. Focusing is pretty much a physical strain, but once I’ve forced myself to focus for a good ten minutes, the next time I look up from writing, it’s dark outside. Let yourself get started before you get frustrated or distracted.
  • The beginning slump. Openings are always the worst part for me, and by “opening”, I mean the first few chapters. All I want is to be completely submerged in the story, and the opening is far from that. But once I labor through these first few chapters, I find myself writing a lot more proficiently with fewer agonized groans.
  • The post-beginning slump. For others, the slump happens after the opening chapters are finished. The shiny newness of the story is gone, and now we face being married to these characters and this story until the end. Find ways to keep yourself interested in your story, if that means simply writing through the agony or transforming your outline to make it fun again. Sometimes the scenes we don’t want to write are scenes that drag the story anyway.
  • When you’re stuck, outline. When we hit the “Now what?” problem, sometimes that stops us from moving forward. I get to a point of “I didn’t plan this out as thoroughly as I should have,” and then it’s easy for me to get distracted by other things instead of figuring out the perplexing problem. Oftentimes, I’ll take a moment to outline each step I need in order to clear the problem, using it as a guide to conquer the scene.
  • Don’t edit. It’s easy to get caught up in wondering what we’ve written, wanting to take a step back and look at it, but then we chance getting caught up in fixing things that don’t need fixing until the revision process. It’s like productive procrastinating, but it’s definitely not building your word count the way actually writing can. That being said –
  • Reread. I used to reread in order to get my brain back into the story, and I allowed myself only micro-edits here and there. Rereading can work for some writers, revving the fingers for plenty of words, but it can also work against other writers who might have trouble with confidence in what they write. Figure out what helps you versus what hurts you.
  • Read. If rereading doesn’t work, try simple reading, but read something that’ll get going that drive to write, something that inspires that absolute need to type a million words into your story.
  • Write with someone. Word sprints and word marathons are good ways to keep up morale. If nothing else, having a writing buddy to whine with about writing woes is always good for morale. But –
  • Don’t compare your word count to others. I can write for long periods of time, but just about all of my writing friends can write nearly twice as fast as I can. I’m a slow writer (and a slow reader, actually), but my writing stamina has built up over the course of a decade. You’re not in the same place in your life that others are, so set the goals that are right for you, not for them.
  • Give yourself permission to fail. If you only write a couple hundred words in a day, that’s okay. That’s a couple hundred words you didn’t have before, and if you write a couple hundred words every day, you’ll have a few pages by the end of the week. If you don’t write any words in a day, that’s okay. Tomorrows are not the same as yesterdays. You don’t know what you’ll do until you’ve done it.



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