Right now, a small group of writers and I are about 1/3 of the way through a my ten-week course to Get Your Book Done (or make crazy serious progress on an important writing project). One major theme that has emerged in the first couple of weeks is “keeping myself honest.” All of the participants know that we can tell ourselves any number of things:
- I’m going to get up every morning at 5 am and write for two hours
- I can totally have this chapter finished by the end of the term
- These revisions are minor; they won’t take much
- I love this project; it’ll be easy to stick with
But telling someone else that you’re committed to finishing the chapter, finishing the draft, sending off the revisions, etc. and making yourself accountable to other people for your plans is a game changer. When we tell each other what our plans for writing are, and then check in with each other weekly, it’s the writing equivalent of the workout partner who is meeting you at the gym early in the morning. You don’t want to let that person down.
And just like having a workout partner keeps you honest about the number of reps you complete or the time you actually spend on the treadmill, a writing group keeps you honest about your commitment level. Some weeks you’ll have more in your tank than others, and other humans get this concept. Having a group to talk through your process with and celebrate your successes with can make your process clearer and your successes sweeter.
In our group, we also talk about tools. Here are some that we’ve discussed or will discuss in the coming weeks.
The Pomodoro technique; everyone’s go-to method for getting down to work in reasonable bursts of time
The app Forest, which comes up again and again on productivity blogs and podcasts. I’m giving it a whirl. I like it better on my phone than on my desktop.
Personal Kanban. You can use Trello.com or a whiteboard or a cork board or a folder with sticky notes to map out the steps of your project, what you can work on right now, and what you’ve accomplished. This is an especially good method for making sure that you don’t forget a teeny step along the way.
Shut Up and Write on Twitter. Follow #SUAW to know when others are gearing up for a session of writing. Low-key, virtual, ad-hoc writing groups.
And, a new-to-me resource that does the math to help you break down your huge project into manageable bites: Pacemaker.press. Give it your word count or hourly goal, your deadline, and how you prefer to pace yourself and it creates a schedule for you to follow.
There are, of course, a thousand different ways to structure your writing time and keep yourself organized and accountable. I like to think that I’ve spent countless hours collecting these and trying them out so that you don’t have to. 🙂 In all honesty, though, the tools above are simple ways to get started, stay focused, and keep your project organized. If you can add in accountability partners and the sense that you are not in this alone, even better!