Perseverance 101

Do you find it easy to keep writing day after day, effortlessly summoning enthusiasm? Do you do exactly what you set out to do, never deviating from the marketing plan? Wow, good for you! You can go away from this blog now.

Okay, now that we cleared the room of all those liars, let's talk about the challenge of sticking with it.

I don't have the luxury of writing full time. I wish I did, and I greatly admire those of you who do. But I suspect this problem affects full-time writers as well. I have a difficult time coming home from work and writing. It's easier on the weekend, but not by much. I have more time then, but not necessarily more inclination. I've constructed a nice long to-do list of marketing tasks that Outlook reminds me of every day, as well as one that says, “Write 500 words.” On far too many days I click “dismiss” on that one, despite really wanting to finish the work in progress.

Can you tell I'm writing this post for me?

I know I've written about this before, but it's all in the mind. I have to make up my mind that I want to keep writing and do it, without letting the tired parts of me interfere. Paul (the Apostle, not the Beatle) had it right when he wrote, about 2000 years ago, about the dilemma we face: “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). It's about discipline, and I am so not disciplined unless it's something I really want to do. So I need to MAKE it something I want to do. Let's try these steps:

1. Stop thinking of writing as a chore but as a privilege. I get to sit down with my characters in this world I've created and tell their story.

2. Instead of having a goal of a set number of words a day, write for a set amount of time a day and do nothing but write the novel during that time.

3. Have a story goal in mind for that 30 minutes of writing, preferably a question. This isn't the overarching goal for the character, but a simple next step: “Will she find the person she's looking for in the building?” or “What happens when her father finds out she's disobeyed him?” Write that goal at the end of the previous section of writing to be ready for theĀ  next day's session.

4. WRITE SOMETHING. It becomes a habit after, what is it, six weeks of doing something? For me it may be longer.

5. Keep that final word count in mind, but on the first draft, don't stress over it. If you're that hung up on it, and you're writing in MS Word, insert a field ever so often of the number of words produced. That may make you feel better. (Cool idea, Donna! Thank you, Donna.)

I'll see how this new plan works out for me, and I'll report in a later post how it's going.

What about you? How do you keep persevering in your writing, even when you want to quit?