The best way to fend off procrastination is to maintain the joy and the enthusiasm for your project. It sounds straightforward, but anyone who’s ever stalled out mid-way to a goal knows it’s easier said than done. But we want to succeed, right? So how do we find and keep the love?
Pretend you’re an un-stifled and un-jaded child again; pretend there are no rules; pretend your efforts will be cherished simply because they come from your heart. Channel your inner kindergartener and let your creativity flow. No right. No wrong. No boundaries.
In short, write for your momma. This is the one time in life where regression will lead to progress.
She’s been oohing and aahing over your creative efforts since before you knew how to spell C-A-T much less how to structure an impactful sentence. No matter what you put on paper – then or now, she loves it. From your momma’s viewpoint, you are the most creative, unique and talented person ever to walk the face of the planet.
No doubt, we are all fabulous individuals, but the reality is, no one is ever as perfect as Momma thinks we are. However, if you keep/recapture/find the love for your WIP, train yourself to write as though your story will only be seen and judged by someone with that kind of unconditional support – at least for your first draft.
As you capture the story’s essence, give yourself permission to misspell words, to start every sentence with “She,” to skip tags and stage directions. Don’t fret over word count, run-on sentences, or passive verbs. (In fact, I recommend turning off spelling and grammar check while banging out your first draft. Those red and blue lines are distracting and tend to bring out our inner editors and self-critics.)
I’m a huge believer in the importance of getting words on the page. My personal writing kryptonite is facing a blank screen. I begin to lose my love of writing when I get stuck in the “stuff happens” section in the middle of a book. When faced with the dreaded blinking cursor, I generally resort to free-consciousness writing – I let my fingers “ramble” over the keyboard until words that make sense begin to appear. Then, once I have something I can build on, I’m golden.
Over the years, I’ve picked up dozens of other tips and tricks on how to keep the love – and the words – flowing. Here are a few of my favs:
- Write longhand. There’s something primitive about pen and paper, something that allows you to focus only on the words dripping onto the page at that moment rather than worrying about all the ones yet to come. This trick works especially well for me when I get to a point where I’m not exactly sure what comes next. I feel that writing longhand divides my mental focus. My tactile brain cells are concentrating on my penmanship, allowing my creative juices to work out the next plot twist without me having to sit and stare at a blank screen, lamenting about being lost in my process.
- Focus on the dialogue. When your characters are all geared up for a meaty conversation, don’t waste your creative resources recording tags and movements and setting details. It’s almost like eavesdropping on these fictitious people who have become such a vital part of your life, and while we know it isn’t polite, it’s darned near impossible to walk away from a salacious interlude.
- Create a writing soundtrack. Music has an undeniable power to set a tone. Whether you’re writing a love scene or a fight scene, music can put you in the right mood and help you transfer those emotions to the page.
- Build a support network. You already know your momma’s going to love your work, but as wonderful and affirming as Mom’s praise can be, biased feedback isn’t going to help you grow as a writer. True love of writing comes when you look a page or sentence you’ve written and see your own growth and improvement. Personal pride is a great motivator!
- Don’t be afraid to write out of sequence. Darn it, you’re stuck in the middle, but you can “see” the climatic final scene. There’s no rule that says you can’t skip ahead and write the parts you’ve already got figured out. In fact, when you know where you’re going, it’s often easier to plot your path and figure out what needs to happen between here and there.
I remember an old episode of “Friends” where Rachel gets embarrassed when she goes jogging in Central Park with Phoebe, and rather than running seriously and solemnly along the path, Phoebe breaks out into a crazy trot with arms and legs flinging wildly. Rather quickly – it was a thirty minute show, after all – Rachel realizes that Phoebe’s running abandon brings the fun and joy back into what had turned into a boring chore.
So, take a cue from Phoebe and write with abandon, fingers flying across the keyboard and thoughts spewing freely from your imagination. Write like no one’s going to pass judgment. Write like only your Momma (or your BFF or your spouse or favorite uncle) will ever read your work.
If you adopt this liberating outlook, your chances of writing something you’d be proud to share with the world will skyrocket.
Back when her twin sons were young enough for daily naps, Dawn Temple took advantage of those quiet moments to pursue her dream of becoming a published romance writer. Sneaking in an hour here and there paid off in 2005 when she sold her first book, To Have And To Hold, to Silhouette Special Edition. She managed to secret away enough time to write and sell the second book in her Land’s Cross series, Moonlight And Mistletoe, but alas, her boys outgrew naps and Dawn let go of those stolen moments with her laptop to enjoy life with her two little guys and her big guy, hubby of 21 years.
But now, as an officially retired stay-at-home mom, Dawn has once again found the time and the creative drive to return to writing, and this time around, she’s set her sights on independent publishing. Her first self-published book, Peace of Heart, is scheduled for release in 2017.