3 Ways I Trick Myself Into Writing More
By Editor-in-Chief Jemimah Halbert
If you haven’t already read last month’s blog post I suggest you read it now. It covers the basics of defining where and how you write, and without knowing those elements it will be difficult to make any of the following tricks work. All three of these methods have been tried and tested, and although they are nearly always successful for me they may need some modifying for you. The point is: trial and error is the only way you’ll work out exactly what works for you, and no amount of trickery will work if you don’t transfer the words from your brain into the physical plane.
While completing my own Thirty Stories in Thirty Days Challenge I posted them each day on my blog. I told my Facebook friends about it and some of them started reading my work. As each story was written and edited in one day the general quality wasn’t high; I edited for spelling and missing words, but the general gist of the story was the main focus. If it reached the end of the day and I hadn’t posted a story my friends would start hassling me for a story. Fear of disappointing them and publicly failing my own challenge kept me going. Never underestimate the power of fear!
Disclaimer: this is a big commitment and shouldn’t be taken lightly – just the right amount of fear is needed and terror will only cause you damage.
I discovered this one the hard way. I tend to do a lot of things at once, i.e. I’ll be editing my website and listening to music or watching TV whilst reading an article, messaging three people, eating toast, checking my Calendar, transferring photos from my phone, designing my zine and talking on the phone. That’s an extreme example, but I’m always doing at least three of those things, or others, at any given time. A good way to trick myself into doing some writing is to have the idea, question or topic in the back of my mind while I’m doing all those other things and as words rise to the surface I’ll open a Word doc, or better yet an actual notebook, and start scribbling. As I’m writing I have that tug that I should be getting back to something else, so I work a little faster and more intensely, getting out as many of the words and as much of the story as I can before I go back to the other things I’m doing. Really needing to pee can also help for that perfect balance of urgency.
Disclaimer: it’s important not to multi-task when something that is actually very important needs doing, like feeding your cat or yourself. Excellent writing is no good to someone who is permanently hangry or covered in scratches.
This method I found out sort of by accident, but when I examined why it works it became very obvious. Basically, I go to bed a little bit earlier than I usually would and I take my laptop with me. This is one of the few times it doesn’t work so well with a notebook as it’s difficult to get words out and the purpose of this exercise is to make the words come thick and fast. Open the laptop, open a Word doc, and write without thinking too much about it. If you’re the right level of tired this should be easy, if you’re too awake still you will think about it too much, the second-guessing, self-doubt and distractions arc up and you’ll have wrecked it before it’s even begun. This trick works because the tiredness will cut through all the crap that clutters your brain when you usually try to write. However, if you’re too tired you’ll either write complete gibberish (which can be fun but also disturbing) or you’ll fall asleep on your laptop and your significant other or cat will look at your like you’re crazy. It’s all about checks and balances.
This is my most recently-discovered method and, to test its effectiveness, I did it every night for a week. I wrote over 5,000 words and it’s honestly the most fun I’ve had writing a story in a long time.
Disclaimer: this probably won’t work for night-owls.
So there you have it: the ways that I trick myself into writing more. Thanks to the above tried-and-true methods, along with the ground work covered in last month’s blog post, I have completed the following projects: written a 50,000 word novel during NaNoWriMo, written a short story every day for thirty consecutive days, completed an Honours degree, written and published a poem in Voiceworks, and created original content for Underground Writers!