Friday, November 5, 2010

Writing Plateau? Tips to Keep Climbing

November is an exciting month for writers. Many are inspired to write 50,000 words as part of NaNoWriMo. Others fight to achieve their annual writing goals before the holidays kick in. And many unpublished romance writers are polishing their Golden Heart entries for Romance Writers of America's prestigious contest.


The first week of any writing project is usually pretty successful. After all, you're excited, but tremors of nervousness ripple through. Will you pull it off? Of course! You're determined.

Somewhere along the line, though, these big goals become enormous. We doubt our abilities, and even if we're on track, we wonder if we can keep it up. One small setback can snowball into an entire week of slacking. And one week of slacking can result in quitting.

Here are some suggestions to overcome a writing plateau and meet those goals.


  • Break up your daily goals into small chunks. For instance, if you've determined to write 2500 words per day, but you're staring at a blank screen and mumbling to yourself after writing 1000 words, don't force it all in one sitting. Give yourself mini-challenges. Twitter has a popular hashtag #1k1h meaning you'll write 1000 words in one hour. If you give yourself an extra fifteen minutes each session, you can write 1250 words.

  • Plan out each week. Get your calendar, a piece of paper, and a pen and write down a realistic goal for each day. On days you have extra obligations--maybe you have a dentist appointment after work on Wednesday, or you're meeting your mother for lunch on Saturday--downgrade your goals. Schedule a heavier writing load on days without extra obligations. If necessary, reschedule non-essential appointments.

  • Fit non-writing goals into your day. Don't let the house fall apart or ignore the laundry because you have lofty writing plans. If shopping for Christmas presents early is part of your annual routine, try to fit some shopping in. Skipping these tasks will only stress you out more, making you less likely to achieve your goal. Take twenty minutes to keep up with your dishes, or set aside fifteen minutes to order a gift online. These small tasks pad your ego and give a sense of accomplishment, putting you in a mentally happy place to write.

  • Take a brisk walk. Studies have shown that exercise feeds our brains. If you're banging your head on the computer keyboard, throw on a coat and head outdoors. Even ten minutes can give you the breakthrough you needed.

  • Limit your Internet time but don't eliminate it. Sometimes we need encouragement. A quick e-mail or a few minutes on Twitter can give us the boost to keep going. If you struggle to turn off the Internet, or find yourself "only checking one thing," but realize you just spent an hour online, set a timer. You'll be amazed what you can catch up with in fifteen minutes.
What other tips do you have for maintaining writing progress?
Have a wonderful weekend!

29 comments:

  1. Great advice Jill! And um, are you trying to torture us with that picture!? Yummmmm!

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  2. excelen info...link back to my blog..ok

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  3. Great tips, Jill! Novemeber is a crazy month, perfect month to plan out our writing goals through December.

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  4. These are great! I totally failed on "Fit non-writing goals into your day" as I finished my content edit. Lesson learned!!!

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  5. great ideas!!! actually good advice for just about any project :) and that picture is perfect!!! yum!

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  6. great ideas!!! actually good advice for just about any project :) and that picture is perfect!!! yum!

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  7. Good morning!

    Katie: Yes, yes I am trying to torture you! Thanks!

    Kartu: Welcome!

    Heather: Crazy month--yes! I'm always terrified the busy-ness of Nov. and Dec. will stunt my writing!

    Julie: Look at it as an experiment! It's okay to let the house fall apart now and then!

    Amber J: Well thank you!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  8. Limiting Internet is really an excellent tip as it's so easy to get sucked in. And there's nothing like a walk outside to get things stirring for me.

    As far as the laundry on my bedroom for. I feel sorry for it. Who know when it will get put away. ;)

    ~ Wendy

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  9. I clicked on the link and couldn't find you. Happy Weekend! :O)

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  10. Wendy: I left a clean load of laundry in the basket for three days earlier this week. Just wasn't feeling it, you know? :)

    Diane: I'm so sorry! I'll take the link off until the interview is posted. Thanks for letting me know, and have a great weekend!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  11. LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! I am just getting into the discipline of writing and it is kicking me in the tail! thank you Jill! Off to my favorite coffee shop!

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  12. Great advice, Jill. I totally break things into smaller pieces, too. I used to do this as a teacher when I was faced with what appeared to be an overwhelming day, or week or semester.
    And, I'm a big fan of those short walks you described :-)

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  13. I agree that getting some little thing done on the internet can encourage you. As long as you don't have one of those "my printer won't work on email" modes. Any pleasant experience or nice comment can help move your goals along.

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  14. Jennie: It IS a discipline, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun, right? Best wishes with your writing!

    Paul: Overwhelming is the right word for it. I break things into as tiny chunks as I can! And I'm glad you take walks (and bring your camera) because you see some really cool things! Moose? :)

    Nancy: True! A nice comment can prod me to get another hour of work done!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  15. Excellent advice here.

    I love the #1k1hr challenge. I am also addicted to the word count meter on my blog. I set goals for making the percentage go up or the red bar fill up.

    It's also important for me to know where the next scene is going before I write it, thus I need my chapter-by-chapter outline to make the words flow faster.

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  16. Those are good tips, Jill. I especially love to break up my writing goals in each day. Actually, I love all kinds of goals :D But doing things in moderation always seems to help.

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  17. Erica: Your productivity inspires me. Your commitment to writing shines through!

    Cindy: I'm getting more done now that I've broken up my tasks. Little breaks help so much! And I know you're great with goals. You write a LOT!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  18. Yeah, that picture will put me in a diabetic coma just looking at it. lol...

    Great advice. This post is timely as I'm working out a new schedule for my writing time. :)

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  20. I need to rework my goals so this post is good timing for me. Setting realistic goals is so important otherwise we set ourselves up for frustration.

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  21. I write in short sprints. With frequent SHORT breaks in-between. Also, I PLAN not to write everyday so I can do things around the house or for myself guilt-free. :)

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  22. Great advice! I know it helps me to just keep writing. Anything.
    Happy weekend,
    Karen

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  23. Ralene: I love the swirls. Mouth is watering... Good luck with the new schedule! :)

    Lynn: Yes, and if I set my goal to high, I just readjust. No sense beating myself up over an impossible goal!

    Jennifer: Frequent short breaks do a writer a LOT of good. And one of the perks of writing is doing it on your terms.

    Karen: True! Writing is the key, isn't it? :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  24. Fantastic advice. I'm still thinking about your news. I hope I'm NEXT!!!!!!! It's been a long and very HARD road. Love you. Love the pic.

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  25. Those are all excellent suggestions. I think the best thing we can do is allow ourselves to adjust when necessary because sometimes the unexpected can occur. Go with the flow and don't stess yourself out.

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  26. Hi Jill! I noticed a comment you left of my writing partner's FB (Jessica Bell) and saw you have a blog, and I thought I'd stop by. Nice to meet you!

    I've been thinking and blogging about writing goals and strategies to meet them. I liked your tip here to break word count goals up throughout the day. I'm going to start using the 1K1H hashtag!

    Best of luck to you reaching your goals this November, and throughout the whole year!

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  27. Robyn: I hope you hear good news too! I agree with the long, hard road assessment. I'm praying for you!

    Amy: Good point. Going with the flow is vital. :)

    Nicole: Welcome! I'm so excited for Jessica and her poetry publishing news! I'm new to breaking up my writing, and I'm a complete convert. It's doubled my word count on many days.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  28. Hi Jill -

    Thanks for the excellent advice. Setting a timer for Internet time is something I will try.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  29. What a yummmy picture~!!!!!!

    I'm having one of those after MONDAY, MY DEADLINE!!!!!!

    Hmmm. Don't neglect other things while setting writer goals?

    I've flunked your "seminar."

    LOL.

    Great tips.
    I've missed this place.

    Blessings,
    Patti

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