I’ve always been a proponent of working when you work best. If you’re a night owl and prefer to write at night, write at night. Carve out a space in your schedule and stick to it. Unfortunately, my own advice has not been working very well for me. I find that I write best in the afternoons and evenings, but those are times when I’m busiest, so by waiting until then, I end up not writing at all. With the exception of NaNoWriMo last year, I didn’t write a single sentence of fiction that I can recall. So I’m modifying my tactic this year. I’ve already achieved five days of it, so although I can’t act like that means it’ll work all year, it’s definitely working better than anything I did last year.
If your writing system is working for you and you’re writing as much as you want to, you can disregard this. But if you need a new strategy for pushing yourself, I’d like to humbly recommend this one:
write every morning
I am not a morning person. I generally stay up too late, I tend to snooze my alarm a lot, and if I allow myself to check any social media before I have to leave, I will be late, without fail. Which is why I’ve never tried to write in the mornings.
But there is an undeniable benefit to knocking out a daily task first thing in the morning: nothing can derail you.
You guys know as well as I do how easily plans can go off track. Maybe you make last-minute plans with a friend, maybe you have to run an errand you didn’t expect to have to run, or maybe your boyfriend drives his 2001 Mustang to class even though there’s a forecast for snow, like a big dummy, and you have to go pick him up. There are a million reasons why writing after work, before or after dinner, before bed, etc. might fall through. Plus, let’s not forget that some days, you’re just worn out. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve gotten home from work feeling absolutely creatively unmotivated. (Copyediting doesn’t exactly light the fire of inspiration under me.)
But if you can reliably get your butt in front of your computer first thing in the morning, you’ve finished your day’s obligation and nothing that happens that day can throw you off.
As a bonus, I’ve found that it also helps me wake up in the morning with a little more excitement, primes my brain for creative thinking at work, and has provided a good period of time for nursing a cup of coffee (rather than chugging a whole mug of it five minutes before I have to leave so I can brush my teeth… hm, wonder why I often get stomach aches in the morning?)
Even though we’re not even a week into the first month of 2014, I feel confident saying that this tactic is going to make this year a better writing year than 2013, no question.
When do you write, and why? Do you have trouble sticking to a daily writing schedule? Let’s discuss in the comments!
Check out another interesting take on this subject from Kiersi Burkhart.