I’m very good at writing on deadline, and no, I didn’t finish the first chapter – but I’m close. You see, although I set myself a deadline, there were no consequences for not meeting it. Oh, I had lots of reasons that I didn’t meet it. I had to interview some people. I had materials to review. I had an agenda to prepare. All true, but they are just excuses. The real reason is that all those other tasks had real deadlines.
I know several people who are prodigious writers. They set daily goals for themselves and meet them. I did that – and still do – when I have a drop-dead deadline.
In thinking about my writing habits, I had some other thoughts as well:
- I do not like sitting at a computer when it’s (relatively) warm and the sun is out.
- I will find every excuse imaginable not to sit at a computer when the sun is out.
- I think best when in motion.
- Coffee makes me happy.
- Writing makes me happy.
- Once I start writing, I lose my sense of time and place.
With those insights, I have come up with my guaranteed personal writing formula:
- On nice days, be as active as possible outside.
- Drink coffee.
- Think about characters/plot during outside activities.
- Fire up computer and write.
- Have a deadline with consequences – a critique group, a contest – anything that requires me to finish writing a set amount by a defined time.
As long as I have a deadline, I will skip numbers 1-3 and go straight to #4. And I will be happy.