- Set a word count goal. My minimum goal is 7 pages per week, which comes to about 2450 words.
- Give yourself permission to write poorly. You are the worst judge of your own writing, especially in a first draft. You need to get around your hangups if you want to be productive. The only way to do this is to stop caring what the world will think.
- Meditate. I do it for 15-20 minutes before I start. I close my eyes, pay attention to my breathing, and still my mind. You can’t focus if you have a head full of burning spiders.
- Never talk about what you’re currently writing. Talk about what you’ve already written if you must. Ideally, unless you need to be flogging your “platform” and self-promoting, don’t talk about your writing at all. Put it out there and let others talk about how great or horrible you are.
- Always talk about the craft of writing but only after you’ve done your writing for the day.
- Program yourself by creating rituals and routines that inform your body and mind it’s time to write. I try to write at the same time every day. After I meditate, I have coffee, light a little incense (which replaced a cigarette years ago), and disconnect from electronic media.
- Always end with something more left to say in the scene. It will take far more energy tomorrow to start from zero than in media res.
- Do not compare yourself to other writers, ever. You are a unique snowflake. Believe it.
- Avoiding low blood sugar is one of the secret keys to intellectual productivity, especially for creative people. Have your donut, but be sure to also snack on fruit and seeds.
- After you write and dump all your energy into your work, do a little exercise to avoid feeling exhausted for hours. I currently do yoga and chi gong, but a good swim or a jog would be just as effective, I think.
March 4, 2016
On writing when you feel uninspired and dead inside . . .