“How can I write more?” Or perhaps “How can I be more disciplined about writing more?” Ever asked yourself that question? I’m sure it’s something that most writers struggle with from time to time (if not every day!). It’s all a question of your writing mindset. If you don’t really have one, you might find that this happens: you start off sitting down at your desk with the best intentions, determined to finish that chapter, or that blog post, or even the entire book. Half an hour later, you come to with a violent start, having fallen down the Google rabbit hole, or having stared out of the window at the passing clouds for thirty minutes. Number of words written? Precisely none…
There is a way to get past this, though. Like so many other things in life, writing regularly is a matter of habit. Yes, you have to be disciplined enough to actually sit your backside down in that chair and put your fingers to pen or keyboard. But there are certain cues you can give yourself so that, little by little, your writing habits become so deeply ingrained that actually sitting down and writing becomes second nature. You need to create a writing mindset! Here’s five tips to show you how.
HAVE A SEPARATE PLACE TO WRITE
No matter how small your house is, you should be able to carve out a space that’s entirely yours for writing. I don’t currently have an office or even a proper desk to write at. I write all my novels and posts sitting at the end of the dining table! But that part of the dining table is MINE. My laptop, equipment and papers live there and my noticeboard sits on the wall beside me as I write.
If you always sit in the same place to write, then your brain will start to associate that place with the activity – writing – and it’ll become easier to fall into that writing mindset when you sit there. So, find a corner, a spare room, a portion of a table – just as long as it’s big enough to sit and write or type comfortably – and make it your own.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH INSPIRATION
Once you’ve got your writing space sorted out, make it an inviting place to be and somewhere that will stimulate your imagination. Change your screensaver to something inspiring – writers you admire perhaps, or a scene or location that reminds you of the setting of your novel. You can create a vision board on Pinterest (here’s one I did for my Miss Hart and Miss Hunter Investigate historical mysteries series) or actually create a physical board covered in pictures, quotes and other things to inspire you. Don’t forget a plant in your writing area will be good for you too – spider plants are particularly good for purifying the air and they’re pretty indestructible too.
There are quite a few writing gurus who say that if you want to develop a good writing habit, then you have to write every day. And, you know, they’re probably right. But I’m of the opinion that life can sometimes get in the way, particularly if you have other obligations like a full time job or young children or other responsibilities. If you decide to write every day and then you miss a few days, it’s easy to get disheartened and end up not writing at all. So make a decision to write regularly, whether that’s every day or every week day or perhaps even every weekend. Just stick to it and those days will soon add up to a lot of written words.
Personally, I write four days a week – when my sons are at school and pre-school. I find trying to write on the weekends, when I’m responsible for caring for and entertaining two lively little boys, absolutely impossible. But I’m rigidly disciplined in writing on the days that I have child-free time so I still get lots done, even if I’m not technically doing this ‘full time’ (be sure to check out this post on how to use your writing time productively)
PLAN OUT YOUR WRITING GOALS FOR THE DAY, WEEK AND MONTH
I’m a great fan of planning. Not only does it free up your mind from flitting from one thing to the other, wondering what the hell you’re supposed to be doing now, but it also is a way of measuring and tracking your progress.
Whether you use an online app or paper and pen, setting down the word counts that you intend to achieve in a day, a week and a month makes it much easier to achieve your goals. Then, when you’ve reached your word count, you can cross it off with a real sense of achievement!
When I come to write my next novel, I’ll set a daily word count of 2,500 words. Over four days, that makes 10,000 a week, which means I should have a 60,000 word novel in six weeks. Realistically, I should probably have it done in under six weeks, because some days I’ll exceed my word count, so I’ve built in a little buffer of time for myself.
TRY WHATEVER YOU THINK MIGHT WORK
I’m not really much of a ‘woo-woo’ person but I suppose I like to keep an open mind and when I’m gunning for success, I’m also of the ‘throw everything at it’ type mindset. So you might laugh, but every day I put on my affirmation necklace – it has a star to remind me to reach for them, my initial and a little crystal of citrine for abundance. Who knows if it works or not? It looks pretty and every morning it reminds me afresh of what I want to achieve.
If you want to get into crystals (well, they do look nice!), amethyst is supposed to be good for creativity.
If you’re writing something specific, why not do a mock-up of your book cover and use that as a screensaver on your computer or your phone? It’s visualisation made easy!
I’m currently putting together a course on mindset and motivation for authors, something that will help to put you in the right frame of mind (the ‘write’ frame of mind, even) to get your novel written. You can sign up here to be kept informed of updates and grab an early bird discount when the course is released in October.
Improving my writing mindset is something I’m always interested in doing. If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.