One of the biggest issues I have come across when working on a long-term novel project is keeping myself interested enough in the story that I want to finish it. I have a bad habit of starting multiple projects at the same time, which makes it even that much harder to keep on one project at a time. Being a writer is bittersweet. Writers are dreamers – and dreams never cease to create. While that is a wonderful and innovative gift, it is a gift that keeps on giving… and giving, and giving, and giving… So, how do we organize and keep all these wonderful gifts separate, yet constantly productive until they at least reach first draft completion? Well, hopefully we can figure that out today. Then, it’s all about editing and getting them ready for agents/publishers/the masses.
Here are a few steps I go through to ensure that my manuscripts are given the attention they require, while also attending to my other projects as I go along:
- LEAVE YOURSELF A CLIFFHANGER
I got this nifty piece of info from RJ Blain, which is one I think is key in keeping interest in your novel, as well as developing a way to keep the interest of your readers in the future. If you get to a point of heightened emotion in your writing and you are able to stop and breathe for a second, but you want to keep going, then stop completely. As much as I have wanted to complete a scene or finish a chapter, I have to stop myself. The cliffhanger will make me come back and get back into that inspirational groove, without very much effort on my part. Just make sure you leave yourself some notes in case you come up with an amazing idea that you’ll want to incorporate the next go around.
- KEEP AN OUTLINE/CHECKLIST
I think I write more about lists than I do my actual writing… Regardless, this helps me. Not everyone is into outlines or lists, but it always makes me feel like I’m being productive and getting stuff done. Thus, if I make a list of what I want to accomplish, I am more likely to get it done… mainly just so I can have the bragging rights… I get off on bragging about list completion. Weird? Yes. Does it work? Yes. And you don’t have to outline every single scene. You can make a checklist with word counts. Monday – 1,000 words. Tuesday – 2,000 words. And you can tailor it to your schedule. More words on the days you have less to do. It may also be beneficial for you to make your lists public, but for more info on that subject, head on over to this post.
- TRY WRITING WITHOUT A COMPUTER
Not everyone is willing to give up their computers… I know, it pains me to think of not using Scrivener *sniffle*, but sometimes, the computer does more bad than good. Especially in my case. I have over 70 games on my laptop, mainly due to the massive Steam sales that occur on a regular basis. My computer is a major distraction. Not to mention the internet, with its FaceBook, Google+, and *cough* my site *cough*. If you have trouble keeping interested in your manuscript because of distractions on the computer, then you may want to try a typewriter or notebook. Back to the basics and you may see some results.
- TURN OFF THE SMARTPHONE
I think this speaks for itself. Apps, games, texts, internet, phone calls, social media, music (not always a bad thing, but might be depending on the person), and email… this is the computer on crack. Distraction is doubled since you can take this with you anywhere and pull it out at anytime. It’s best to just leave it in a drawer somewhere, but that’s not always an option, so it’s best to just turn it off. Makes it a lot easier to focus when you don’t have your phone lighting up with notifications every five seconds. Just a little food for thought.
Not all of these will work for everyone. Not all of these will apply to everyone either. Pick and choose which you think will work, and try them out. They surely can’t hurt. Now, for my favorite part, what tips do you have for keeping on track? Any advice? Any rituals? Let me know!
Thanks for reading!