Or at least the one that I have found so far to be working for me.
Before I found what worked for me, I believe I had reached the point that maybe it would be better that I made Meth instead.
Then I remembered I’m not a chemistry teacher and that I’ve seen footage of what real meth “labs” looked like. Yeah, not gonna do that.
So, back to writing then.
For years since I graduated Seton Hill’s Writing Popular Fiction Program with my MA (I went before it changed into an MFA) in 2009 I have struggled to keep a consistent writing regimen. During the program I had to maintain one in order to meet deadlines, but when I left the program I found it very difficult to continue at that pace.
Even worse was there were a couple of tumultuous events that occurred in my life during that time which did not help the creative process. Where I was afraid I would not make enough to pay the bills, and what not.
Time passed and then I started to explore ways I could get back into a routine that I could actually keep. I tired setting writing times for myself, an hour or sometimes more dedicated to writing, but then I found during those writing times my mind would constantly be drawn to other activities and that would result in low output. This would then feed into anxiety about not writing and producing low word counts and eventually I would not write.
I tired so many different methods to bootstrap my writing that I soon lost count and I felt completely paralyzed when it came to writing. I almost felt afraid to even refer to myself as a writer since I was not actually writing and that in turn fed the anxiety.
But I still wanted to write. I wanted to finish stories that I had started and ones that I had promised to myself to put to paper. I needed to find something that would work. Some way that would allow me to get past the anxiety and let me actually let me feel happy about what I am producing.
About two months ago, I sat down and analyzed the problems I was having. I found that it came down to goal setting. I was setting goals that I could not realistically meet and the fact that I was not meeting them was making me throw myself under the anxiety bus. The answer to this problems was to set a more attainable goal. But what sort of goal? After some deliberation, I decided instead of a particular, arbitrary word count, I selected the smallest unit of cohesive story structure there was: a sentence.
A single sentence could vary in length, but it still moved the story forward. So, I resolved to write at least one sentence a day, every day.
I started on February 19, 2014 and found that I when I wrote one sentence at least another one or two flowed out. I kept on going with the minimum goal of one sentence a day.
I had finally found something that worked for me.
Now, my outputs are no where near what some other authors can pump out, but as of yesterday, I had produced over 7,341 words that I would not have written in the same two month period in previous years. So if I keep this pace that means I will clear 73,410 words by the end of the year, which is a novel.
I haven’t completed a novel since I graduated. The idea that I can now do this inspires me.
To keep myself honest, I also add an accountability element by posting my word count to social media. I’ve received some support via that channel and it does help immensely to get the encouragement.
In the coming months, I will increase my minimum daily goal from one to two sentences. And then perhaps start raising it after that as I feel comfortable. Either way, I am glad to have finally found something that worked for me.