I have recently returned to my NaNoWriMo novel after about six months off and have been inspired by Isaac Espriu’s blog to set myself some writing goals. Previously I had been trying to write for six hours a day (hah!) but never managed. I could concentrate for about three hours (with breaks) but stopping for lunch was a killer. I could never get back into the flow again. There was no incentive to write a lot either, because I knew I would be stuck in front of the computer all day regardless of whether I churned out 50 words or 5000.
Now I’ve set myself a goal of writing 1000 words a day and so far it’s going pretty well. On a good day I can be finished after an hour and on a not-so-good day it takes around three hours. I plan to have the story in place by 30th June and the first draft (with all the holes filled in and superfluous ramblings cut out) finished by 30th September. I set the end of September as my deadline because if I had done the MA in creative writing, I would have had to hand in a completed manuscript by then and I want prove to myself that I did not throw away my only chance of writing a novel by turning down the place on the course.
Unfortunately, I’ve not got a huge amount of self discipline and I haven’t managed to reach the 1000 words every day. My brother is really into hypnotism and mind control and he’s been giving me some tips on how to improve my willpower. One of them is to create an ‘anchor’. That means that on a day when the writing is going really well, I have to do some kind of action that will act as a trigger to spur me on to write on another day when I feel less motivated. So over the last few days as I’ve been typing away like mad I’ve had to remember to periodically tug my earlobes. If I keep this up, one day I will sit down at my laptop, tug my earlobes and a whole novel will spill out onto the computer screen. That’s how it works, right?
Another tip my brother gave me for improving willpower is to force myself to do one disagreeable task a day. It’s true that I don’t always love writing, but I don’t want it to be my disagreeable task either. I suppose I could try washing the dishes every day. I really don’t like doing that. I’ve eaten cereal out of saucepans and pizza off of tinfoil rather than wash up.
Putting aside these exercises in willpower for a moment, the most compelling reason for me to stick to my goal is that on the days when I manage to write 1000 words I feel great and on the days when I don’t, I feel rubbish. It’s as simple as that.