My husband and I formed a writer’s group with some fellow writers in our area. We meet monthly to discuss our writing issues, goals, and to give criticism of projects we’ve submitted for critique.
But all of us have admitted to a similar issue: the discipline to sit down and do our non-job related writing on a daily basis.
We each have started various writing projects, but never completed some of them. Even things as simple as a short article might never be finished, or a short story for a contest or call for submissions may not be finished by the deadline.
So, we asked: what can we do to fix this issue? How can we be accountable for our writing?
We’ve created consequences that actually motivate us not to miss our mark each week at the weekly check-in via email.
We set up a variety of rules to help keep us in check and to keep things reasonable. For example, we must all check in with each other by 10pm every Saturday, giving new writing goals for the week, and all updates from the previous week’s goals.
We each then have until 10pm Sunday night to respond with any questions, need for clarification, etc. from the emails sent the previous day.
And, finally, whoever is the “least” writer for the week is required to do a dreaded task: write in the unfavorable genre of choice for 10 minutes, as given by the leader of the pack.
For example, if I were the “least” writer for the week, and my husband was the leader, he would have to choose between the five genres I told him I most would hate to read or write, and I must spend a minimum of 10 minutes writing that genre. I have one week to finish the assignment and must submit it with my update the next Saturday.
This has been a cost-free, highly effective motivation for all of us thus far. We’re still working out the kinks, but let me tell you: I do not want to write Glee fanfic for even a minute, let alone ten.
If you’re part of a writer’s group, even one that cannot meet in person, you could try something along these lines to help you stay motivated to write every day. Or, if you’re isolated in your writing, give your best friend or spouse a list of the five genres you most hate and ask that person to assign your consequence any week you miss the mark.
Just be realistic in your goal setting, and create a realistic list of valid excuses for yourself. Being in the hospital, have another type of medical or legal emergency or anything along those lines should give you a pass on the days not affected. But don’t go soft on yourself, either, and claim your sprained ankle that kept you from running also kept you from sitting on your butt writing your memoir.