Happy New Year! Blimey, 2021? I’m still of the opinion that 2020 is in the far-flung future, so goodness knows how I’m going to get my head around that fact we’re now well into the 2020s.
Yes, it’s the New Year, and so it’s time to start writing that novel you’ve been forming in your head all year. But ask yourself this – and then answer it honestly – do you think that procrastination will hold you back? Is it a worry about it not being perfect, about the circumstances in which you write not being exactly what you’d like? How can you get over this mentality and embrace the writing, so that 2021 is the year of your next fantastic piece of work?
Well, you know I don’t like writing rules, but I’m always full of suggestions. And here’s a few. Maybe they’ll help you in terms of mindset?
- Don’t let procrastination hold you back. Just refuse to give in to it. Force yourself through those difficult parts. Don’t give up the second it gets a little tricky. If what’s coming out is garbage, well, just keep writing anyway. A voice in your head will say: “Stop, this is crap. You’ll only have to go back and delete it anyway.” Ignore it. Keep writing. Don’t overthink. Don’t really think at all. After a while it won’t be a laboured, mechanical thing. The words will flow again. And as I’ve mentioned before, while what you’re writing might feel like crap as you’re doing it, after you’ve finished, taken a break, and maybe gone back to have a look the next day, you’ll be surprised how good some of what you wrote was. Seriously; this is often when you’ll write some of your best work. I know that sounds nuts, but it’s true. Don’t fear that unwillingness to write. Just push through it. And know that what comes out the other end might be really special.
- Set some easily achievable goals. Just simple things. Finish that scene today. Close out that chapter. Even if what you’re writing is far-from perfect, just set the goal and deliver. Keep moving forward.
- Use incentives. Silly things work well. You’re totally gonna eat that chocolate bar. But only after you finish this chapter.
- Take away distractions. Easier said than done in some situations, with family, etc. I know it can be tough. But if you can, try and put aside everything else you need to do that day. Just for an hour. You’ll thank yourself for it if you can.
- Set deadlines. You’re going to write one chapter/scene/500 words every day this week. Even if it’s all crap. So the week-long deadline is 7 chapters/scenes/3,500 words. That’s the baseline. Can you beat it? Gamification can work here.
Once you start to work like this, it can be addictive as well as productive. You’ll get to know how good it feels to tick off these lists. Yes, you might not want to start the work, but the spark that will get you off and keep you going, is knowing how good it feels to finish want you wanted to achieve that day. To tick that thing off the list. Get it done, and then enjoy the rest of your day.
So it’s 2021. Get started. Then keep at it. And good luck. You got this.