Imagine you could be a great writer, but just can’t commit time to a hard chair and actually knocking your story out? It’s easy to get distracted by books about writing, blogs about writing, and buying coffee mugs with famous authors’ quotes. But writers write. And as Leonard Bernstein said, “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.”
Your plan doesn’t have to be the fully-realized narrative arc for your work. Just take a few notes and set a deadline for yourself that seems too ambitious. Left to your own devices, you may continue to procrastinate on getting started. However, with a deadline, especially a deadline you’ve shared with friends and family, you’ll be held to your intentions.
Try these three, dramatic but fun, resources to keep you writing:
Participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
Join tens of thousands of writers worldwide in writing a complete novel in November. Participants each begin writing their own 50,000+ novels on November 1, with the intention of completing their version of the Great American in a single month. There’s plenty of friendly competition, pep talks, and writing groups to keep you on track. Though, instead of deep discussions about character development, NaNoWriMo write-ins are filled with furtive typists and plenty of caffeine. There’s also a Camp NaNoWriMo option to set your novel deadline in the month that works best for you.
Download the Write or Die App
Set a personalized level of “consequences” on this writing tool, and you’re sure to keep writing. If you stop typing, you’ll receive your pre-selected reminders: gentle pop-ups, annoying noises, or “kamikaze” mode, which will actually start erasing what you’ve previously written. The strong negative reinforcement serves many writers better than promises of hugs and cookies when the story is through.
Wage a word war
Enlist your friends and fellow writers in your efforts. Through Twitter or in person, set a dedicated time to start and end. When the timer “dings” (or you receive the “start” tweet), write as fast as your fingers will fly. When the time’s up, use the Word Count in your document review toolbars to see who has written the most in the designated time. Small caveat: This may determine who among you has better typing skills, not necessarily the most lovely and amazing writer. Still, award a small prize, take a little break, and stage a few more wars until everyone feels productive.
Though your first forays into fast writing may not yield the most literary results, you will gain momentum. Once you’ve established a disciplined writing habit — through positive motivation or punishing consequences — you’re more likely to keep writing. And in all that fast and furious prose, once you’re writing in flow, you’re sure to craft something awesome. Or at least have fun doing it.