Everyone has a story to tell. Some of us are more disciplined than others in getting it down on the page. Congratulations on stepping up to the 85K90 Writing Challenge! I’m in the process of writing my fourth novel, and I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t get easier. The process doesn’t change, and sometimes I feel that learning to be a brain surgeon would be easier than cranking out a book. Thank goodness I can always rely on the basics to get myself going. Here are my five time-tested tips that take me from fearing writing to picking up my pen and writing consistently.
Tip #1: Get in the right mindset.
The first thing a writer needs is a will to succeed. You have to tune everyone out, including the negative voices in your head, and really focus on your goals with tunnel vision.
Tip #2: Find a time and place with no distractions.
For me, the time is first thing in the morning, in my little writing nook off of my bedroom. I like to start my day with what Julia Cameron calls the “Morning Pages.” That’s simply writing longhand, stream of consciousness with no editing, correcting; basically, I just let it all hang out. I find free writing is the best way to cozy up to my muse and let her know that it’s time to come out and play. If you aren’t a morning person, then try writing ten minutes before bed. The biggest thing is to commit to a time and place and stick with it. Once you get this down, the writing will flow.
Tip #3: Give yourself an assignment.
I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve always committed to writing for a time-period, and I recently realized that’s not working. In the three hours I set for writing, I’ve gotten up from my desk, went to the kitchen, checked my email, liked my friend’s pages on Facebook, put in a load of laundry…you get the picture. I’ve just arrived at the conclusion that I have to give myself an assignment. Five pages a day, 800 words, 85,000 words in 90 days, etc. Set a daily quota for yourself and stick with it. If you need accountability, you can log your word count in the Project Tracker and share your progress in the forum’s word count reports.
Tip #4: Reward yourself.
Now that you’ve reached that daily writing goal, it’s time to pamper yourself. I don’t know what your writer likes but mine loves hot yoga, reading a good book and a chilled glass of wine. When you’ve reached your goal, whether daily or weekly, then reward yourself. We all like something to look forward to and praise goes a long way with your muse.
Tip #5: Be patient.
New York Times bestsellers aren’t born overnight. Writing takes commitment, self-discipline, desire, and PATIENCE. First, you write a word, then a sentence and then a paragraph. Be gentle with yourself, love your writing and trust where it is going.
Good luck! Not that you need it. You’ve got this!
Love and Light,
About Sadeqa Johnson
Sadeqa Johnson, a former public relations manager, spent several years working with New York Times best-selling authors such as JK Rowling, Bebe Moore Campbell, Amy Tan and Bishop TD Jakes before becoming an author herself. Her debut novel, Love in a Carry-on Bag, is the recipient of the 2013 Phillis Wheatley Award for Best Fiction. She is the author of Second House From the Corner and And Then There Was Me, which were both hailed by Essence magazine. She has received the Black Pearl Magazine Author of the Year award for 2017.
Sadeqa is a motivational speaker, inspirational blogger, wife, and mother of three incredibly busy children. She teaches writing workshops in Richmond, VA. Check out the Saturdays with Sadeqa series hosted by Life in 10 Minutes. Join Sadeqa Johnson’s Literary Luau Facebook group.
[This post by Sadeqa Johnson was originally published in January 2018.]