If only it was as easy as sitting down at your desk, tea at your side and pen in hand. If only by telling yourself, “It’s time to write my next chapter,” the words would flow effortlessly from the tips of your fingers. Unfortunately for most aspiring and even published romance authors, that’s not how it works. If it did, we’d all be successful romance writers from day one, with riches beyond our wildest desires. What a dream come true that would be!
Let’s get back to reality here. Writing in itself can be difficult. Add to that the need for coherent flow, character fluidity and some sort of meaningful gathering of all aspects of your work, and it can be downright impossible some days. Without some sort of ritual or plan to set the mood, which in turn creates the continuing mindset, you could feel as if you’re fighting a lost battle from the get-go.
I want to share some tips with you on how to avoid feeling like you’re on the Titanic at that precise moment they realized there weren’t enough lifeboats for everyone. Although these tips might not all work for you, they may assist you in finding your own methods of entering that mindset which is so important to the success of any of your romance writing.
- Take a load off. Often we place undue pressure on ourselves with unrealistic goals. It doesn’t matter how often you tell yourself, “Today I’m going to write at least 2,000 words before I go to bed.” There are days this just isn’t going to happen, no matter how late you stay up staring at the clock. By setting a goal which may very well be impossible, you’re walking right into a potential brain block. Pressure, by yourself or others can do just that.
Instead of outlandish word or page counts, aim your sights at the other end of the spectrum. Lower your expectations in order to ease the pressure. Before setting your fingers on the keyboard or picking up your pen, tell yourself you’ll be satisfied with your day’s accomplishments after completing 20 minutes of solid writing. Another way to do this would be to use a word count, telling yourself you’ll be content after getting 350 to 400 words on paper. Relaxing your requirements of yourself can often get your mindset back where it works best, and you’ll have more than your specified amount accomplished before you know it.
- Check the atmosphere. While we could take this to mean the weather, I really want to have you look around your writing area to see how comfortable and inviting it is for your optimal writing conditions. Is your desktop cluttered with remnants of your business day? Do you have a pile of bills sitting there staring at you, beckoning to be paid? What about the lighting? If you want to give yourself every chance at a successful writing session you need to check chaos at the door. Hide the bills, clean off your desktop and light a relaxing aromatherapy candle. Make your space inviting, not somewhere you’d rather forget due to the clutter and chaos it represents.
- Stop procrastinating. Self-discipline is an important part of any author’s daily life. However, there are days when it would be all too easy to sit and surf the Internet, play a computer game or perform any number of other non-related computer tasks instead of dedicating your time to at least attempting to get the written word on paper. While there are various programs out there you could install on your computer to help prevent you from indulging in time-wasters, such as LeechBlock for Firefox or RescueTime which ranges from free to paid versions, simple plans can be just as effective if you have the will-power to follow through. Try such things as making an outlining of what you plan to write the day before, or choosing a time when you know there will be fewer distractions in the home. You can even try separating your designated writing area from where you partake in leisure or family activities, just to give it its own distinction.
- Stick to what’s important. One thing I have trouble with, and I’m sure other writers do as well, is the constant competition (with myself, no less) to make the next paragraph better than the last, or the next chapter more riveting than the one before it. The problem with this type of thinking is eventually you can no longer beat yourself and stay within the context of your original plan. This is why keeping to relevant, important and reader-engaging elements is so important. Once your inner writer gets the hang of writing for the pleasure of your readers instead of competition with yourself, you’ll not only see a potential improvement on your written words, but also in the impact they have on others.
While these four tips may only seem like minor things when you skim over them as you read this article, when you take the time to sit and actually think deeply on the message each one holds you’ll be able to not only free yourself from wasted time and efforts, but produce quality, encouraging and meaningful written words you can be proud to read and share. Isn’t that the best type of gratification there is for us?