I’ve always struggled with trying to do too much, setting too many goals and making massive plans I can’t actually complete. Then I run around, spreading myself too thin, as I try to accomplish them all.
This is especially true with my writing goals. It was like going out to dinner, expecting to have a lovely meal complete with a fresh salad, a tender steak, and a fancy dessert—preferably chocolate, but only taking time to go to fast food restaurant and then ending up with a pathetic and soggy $1.39 cheeseburger.
Between being a mom and a wife and trying sewing projects and quilting and random crafts and keeping up with the work that goes with running an Etsy shop and baking and cooking elaborate meals, I only had small snatches of time to write here and there. Sometimes I’d go weeks without writing. Sometimes months.
BUT somehow I still wanted those small writing moments to magically result in me accomplishing my goals. I was constantly disappointed in myself, disappointed I wasn’t accomplishing more with my writing, disappointed I didn’t seem to be on track to becoming the writer I wanted to be, disappointed I wasn’t succeeding.
I’ve slowly made changes. I’ve become more selective of what I do with my time. I only sew occasionally. I closed my Etsy shop. And I cook simpler meals. I’ve been writing more, but I still wasn’t meeting my goals.
At the end of August, I was chatting with the brilliant members of an online writing group I’m part of about our goals for September. (I’m looking at you Good Writtance.) I mentioned I wanted to rewrite my whole WIP (that’s all new words, people), revise it, and send it to beta readers.
That was actually a pretty impossible goal. I have a husband who likes to see me and six kids that like to snuggle and play with and talk to.
BUT I realized if I really wanted to finish this book, I had to do something different. I was writing more, but I still wasn’t good at consistently writing every day for a large chunk of time. It was hit or miss at times. One day for an hour. Another day for twenty minutes. It wasn’t enough. I had to really commit to this writing beast.
So, I made a goal to write 2 hours a day. Every day. And if I didn’t quite get the two hours in, I’d tack the remaining time onto the next day.
In September I re-outlined my book, based on big changes I needed to make. I wrote 56,432 new words. (Okay. It was about an hour and half into October.)
I also wrote three picture books. I originally started my writing for children life as a picture book writer, but then moved to writing middle grade novels (after a painful attempt at an epic YA fantasy). I hadn’t written a picture book for ages! It felt so good to dip my toes in the picture book world again.
I also participated in a friend’s memoir writing challenge and found myself writing about hard and happy experiences in my life. It’s given me a chance to work on my craft in a different way.
In short, I spent the month actually being a writer, writing every day, putting in the work I really needed to and LOVING it. It was absolutely fantastic.
5 Ways to Write More Consistently
- Choose an amount of time you want to write every day. (Make sure it’s an amount of time you can make work for your life and those in it.) Try using a timer to keep track of the time you actually spend writing. Stop the timer when you get on the internet or stop writing to hug a crying child or if your husband interrupts you to ask your opinion on the new mattress you need to buy. (You might be surprised how long it takes you to actually get the writing time in! I know I was.)
- Make more room for writing by simplifying your life. Do you really need to take up another hobby or be on another committee or do laundry? (Ok. You probably need to do that last one. But you could also teach your kids how to help. Win-win.)
- If you struggle to write for a large chunk of time, try mixing it up. Write poetry, participate in a writing challenge, write a blog post, or dabble with/outline/brainstorm another project. You could also try the Pomodoro Technique.
- Get creative with how you get your writing time in, especially if you have little ones around or it’s difficult to write at home. This last month, I had a mobile office which moved between the library, the library park, Del Taco’s indoor playground, and McDonald’s playland.
- Tell those close to you about your goal, about the amount of time you’re trying to write every day. My children and husband knew I wanted to write two hours a day. My sweet husband often asks if I’ve gotten my writing time in. If I didn’t and he was able to, he’d make or finish making dinner or read to our little ones or run errands for me, so I could finish my writing time for the day. For our anniversary, he even gave me a writing retreat, speaking to Tasha’s husband about setting up a time when I could book a room at the hotel he manages so I could get a solid 24 hours of writing in. (My husband even offered to bring me dinner!)
“I’ve learned from experience that if you work harder at it, and apply more energy and time to it, and more consistency, you get a better result. It comes from the work.” -Louis C. K.
Erin Shakespear writes middle grade fantasy full of magic, adventure, and quirky creatures. With six kids, her days imitate her art and are full of magic, adventure, and quirky creatures, too. She also likes to dabble at photography, longboarding, and pretending she’s a grand artist.