I’ve been disappointing myself lately. After a great creative start to my revised life as a working mother, my novel has been suffering a little of late. This isn’t because I haven’t had time to work on it – as I wrote a few weeks back, I have lunch hours and the like which have me already sitting at a computer and which give me ready-made writing time. No, I’ve found myself faffing about during that time instead, checking the newsfeeds on the internet or looking at my blog stats or whatever. Basically, anything that doesn’t involve actual writing, I’ve been doing it.
Because of this, my word count has stagnated a little. I hit 90K last week, but since then my total count has actually gone down rather than up. Sure, I’ve been writing (a little), but I’ve been more active doing minor line edits than actually being creative; cutting things rather than adding them. I’m sure the manuscript is all the better for it, but that doesn’t really make up for the fact that I’ve been neglecting the creative side of it.
In order to slap myself into submission, I’ve decided to give myself word count goals – a minimum of 1000 words each day that I have time to sit down and write for an hour or more, and preferably 2000. I know I can do this (I’ve knocked up a 1200-word short story in about 15 minutes on occasion), I just need to be motivated.
I know that word count targets can be counter-productive. Writing just for the sake of writing often produces substandard results. However, this for me isn’t a long-term solution, more of a kick start (or a kick up the rear end). To finish my first draft I’ve got a lot of scenes that need to be written, but which I know will be dull to write. This is my way of making myself write them. If the quality is bad I can edit them later on; for now, I just need them done.
Naturally, simple goals often aren’t enough. I could be sitting at my workstation faffing around as usual, without paying attention to my goals and not feeling guilty in the slightest. However, if I use the carrot and stick method, it’s more likely to be effective.
The answer, for me at least, is chocolate. I will buy myself one or two chocolate bars each day, and leave them sitting on my desk. When it gets to lunch time, if I don’t get to 1000 words I don’t get the chocolate bar. I have to leave it sitting there, of course, as recognition that I didn’t do it, and as motivation for the next day. As someone who has trouble leaving a good Crunchie bar just sitting there uneaten, this is bound to motivate me. (If I manage 2000 words, I get two chocolate bars. Extra reward for extra effort.)
Will it work? Time alone will tell. But I have enough prompts in my WIP to give me the inspiration to write the missing scenes, so that shouldn’t be an issue. The question is whether I want the chocolate enough.
So, that’s my goal. 1000 words per day that I’m able to write for an hour or more. With any luck this dratted first draft will be finished in no time, and then I’ll be able to really go through and do a thorough edit. In the meantime, I was wondering – what motivations work for you? What have you tried to make you get your story finished? And did it work? Because, if my Crunchie bar method isn’t successful, I’m sure as hell going to need all the ideas I can get!