I am the master of fooling myself, mostly because I am so easily fooled. I set my clock five minutes ahead, and always forget. The good news is that I am rarely late for anything.
When I clean the house, I never even think for a moment, “I’ll clean every inch of this place today.” Instead, I reassure myself, “I’ll just clean this one little area. That is all. No more.” I know that once I clean that area, I’ll be in the mode and clean the rest, but I can’t tell myself that from the start or it will never happen. I have to trick myself into doing it.
The same thing goes for my writing. If I would look at how much I have to write, how far I have to go to finish a book, then I would probably never start. Instead, I tell myself, “I’ll sit down and write for one hour. That is all. No more.” Normally what happens is I’ll look at the clock and somehow two hours have passed before I even realized it, and I’m locked in writing mode for the rest of the day.
Some writers look for word count. They plan on writing a certain number of words a day. I’ve never really tried to do that. I feel better finishing a chapter or a scene. Different methods work for different people. Find what works for you.
I have heard it said that the most important thing you can do as a writer is plant your bottom in a chair. That is the truth. It doesn’t matter how much you research or read or learn, if you don’t put your bottom in a chair and write, you won’t get anywhere. And the only way to get better as a writer is by writing, and writing, and then writing some more.
I’m getting close to the end of the manuscript I’m working on, and it’s getting tricky. When this happens, I use another method to fool myself. I tell myself that I won’t plan to write anything new today. I’ll just go back and reread the last few chapters to make sure I’m on the right track. Ahhh. That takes the pressure off. It means I won’t have to think of something brilliant and new to write. The funny thing is, as soon as I reread those chapters, I can suddenly see exactly where I want to go, and it makes me want to start writing more. Before I know it, a new chapter is complete and my book is that much closer to being finished.
Do what you have to do to get your bottom in that chair and write. It might be setting a time or a word count. It might be something else. But just thinking about writing will get you nowhere. You have to commit yourself at least to starting, or you will never finish. Just a few pages. That is all. No more.
Try it. It works.