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Forming a Writing (or anything) "Schedule"

I have always struggled with writing consistently, which any of my Wattpad readers can attest to--I'll go three months with regular updates and then disappear for two months without a single chapter uploaded. I get into these weird moods where I don't want to write a single word, after going through a phase where I feel like every word I write is pure gold.

This has been an issue for years at this point, since I started writing on Wattpad back in early 2014 (six years ago??). I've tried different ways of combating it, but life always seems to find a way of 'getting in the way' or I find myself using the excuse of not having enough time.

And you know what? I probably don't have time to be churning out 3,000-word chapters every day. Actually, I definitely don't have time to be churning out 3,000-word chapters every day. But that doesn't mean I don't have time to write every day.

I think that I (and a lot of people I know) suffer with an 'all or nothing' mindset. You're either going to go to the gym six days a week or zero. You're either going to eat 100% healthy all day or you're going to survive off of only Cheetos and chocolate chips for 24 hours. You're going to get your entire paper written tonight or you're not even going to look at the prompt. That's often how I thought about writing: I was either going to write an entire chapter in one sitting or I wasn't going to write anything that day.

This is so detrimental to progress. And I think the logical part of our brains know this. But I think that a lot of people don't listen to the logical side of their brain all the time. I do this with a lot of things, like going to the gym or doing my skincare routine or cleaning my room. It's either all or nothing. And that's just not how life works.

So my new strategy for writing has been simple: I'm going to write 500 words a day. Minimum. But if I only write 500 words in a day, at least I wrote something. And half the time, aiming for 500 words a day means that I end up getting on a roll, or getting a new idea, and I end up with 2,000 words in one sitting. But that's because I sat down and forced myself to write those 500 in the first place.

Half of the time, I have to force this when I'm tired. I force this right before I go to bed and I realize that I didn't write that day yet. So sometimes, the 500 words suck, and the next day, I have to go back and change some things. But when it comes down to it, at least I wrote. I wrote something, and I try to write something every day. I keep track on a little sticky note on my laptop's home screen, of the number of words my novel starts with at the beginning of every day and the number of words it ends the day with. Some days, the difference is almost exactly 500 words. Some days, I forget completely. Although those days, I'm proud to report, have become less and less in number. And some days, the difference is almost 3,000. Because getting those initial 500 words out lead to me becoming excited about the scene I'm writing and just running with it.

So for any writer who struggles with writing every day, I would highly suggest this. And it doesn't have to be 500 words a day. That's just my magic number. It could be 250, or 100, or 10. Something that you feel confident you can commit to every day. Or at least…most days. Because of this, I've written almost 10,000 words in the past 10 days (and it's noon as I'm writing this…there's a lot more writing to be done today.) It helps to have something to aim for. But it also helps to have a goal that's not so astronomical to reach in the first place. Once I go a month of consistently writing 500 words a day, maybe I'll up it to 700 words a day. (Or maybe not, since my internship is starting soon and I'll probably be back to writing 500 words before bed)

The point is…the 'all or nothing' mindset is bogus. It's bogus and it's often just an excuse to not do the things you know you should be doing, or the things you want to be doing but can't quite find the motivation for in the moment. So I challenge you to try this…it doesn't have to be writing. But I challenge you to let go of the 'all or nothing' mindset in just one aspect of your life, and see how it helps you develop small habits that last well into the future.

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