If you ask any moderately successful author for writing tips, they’ll most likely tell you to write. Of course, this seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? If you want to write, you should write! Writing every day? That’s a piece of cake! Well, at least it seems that way at first. Life gets in the way, and you end up leaving half-finished manuscripts untouched and forgotten about for years.
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending Sarah J. Maas’s book tour for A Court of Wings and Ruin. While there, she gave the fantastic advice of treating writing like a job. You’ve probably heard it before, and maybe even tried it, but what does that mean?
Well, let’s think about it a little.
When you have a job, you have a schedule that you need to stick to. If you’re supposed to work from 9 to 3 on Monday, you better be there from 9 to 3 on Monday. You can’t just decide you’d rather get a pedicure with your friends, go out to brunch, and buy a new hat instead. You have obligations and responsibilities, and if you can’t meet them, then you face consequences, like getting fired.
Like a real job, creating a schedule for yourself could be an excellent way to get you to write every day. Depending on how you personally work, you can accomplish this in two different ways.
Create set times out of your day to work on your project. Schedule it for a time when you know you are motivated, and will not be distracted or have prior commitments. It’s recommended that you make it the same time every day, such as in the morning before work, or after dinner. Even as little as an hour a day can be beneficial. Work for as long as you can, and even schedule two or three short writing bursts per day if that is how you work best.
Like a real job, it is also alright to give yourself some personal time, too. Don’t slack off, but if you don’t let yourself have time every once in a while, writing can become a chore that you will no longer enjoy doing.
Another way you can treat writing like a job is by having daily goals or weekly for yourself. This could be word count, writing a certain number of chapters, or even getting to a certain part of your story. Make sure they are achievable, but also challenge yourself a little bit. Don’t make your daily word count 100 words, but don’t make it 300,000, either. Keep S.M.A.R.T. in mind (where are the ag kids with their SAE’s?)
Like a real job, hold yourself accountable for what you do and do not do. Maybe you get to buy yourself something nice, or take yourself out for ice cream if you follow your schedule for a month straight. Perhaps you donate a large sum of money to a charity you don’t like when you fail. Telling your friends or family your plans will also make you more likely to complete them as well. Boyinaband has a great video explaining how he kept on track with his goals.
If you have anything you’d like to add, or if you want to try this, let me know! I definitely will be scheduling myself writing time from now on.