Re: How do you stay motivated / on schedule?

#1
This is something I am quite bad at. For a while I had a ton of backlog and happily updated on time twice a week.. and then I ate through all of my backlog. This was all still fresh and fun, so I wrote more, and kept it up for a few more weeks.. and then I began slipping. I skipped a week here or there, or I added a filler chapter. And now it's gotten to weeks between updates. Not to mention my patreon backlog is totally gone.

It's demoralizing to see how much I've fallen behind. I had hoped writing a serial would help me keep up, and for a while it did, but I fell back into old terrible habits. I think about how much there is left to do, how many people I've disappointed, how others do more/better than I... and it ends up with me ignoring it, saying I'll start 'tomorrow,' and mostly just not-writing.

Any tips/ideas/support?

Thank you ❤

Re: How do you stay motivated / on schedule?

#2
It sounds to me like there's critical pressure on you, and it's preventing you from writing. What's changed from when you were having fun? I have a thread about writing as much story as you can from a random Pinterest pin in 15 minutes. You should go do the exercise, it'll get you writing.

https://www.royalroad.com/forums/thread/107788

Hit it, Pal! A lot of people on here would kill to have five-hundred followers. Let's figure this out.

Waiting...

Re: How do you stay motivated / on schedule?

#3

LambentTyto Wrote: It sounds to me like there's critical pressure on you, and it's preventing you from writing. What's changed from when you were having fun? I have a thread about writing as much story as you can from a random Pinterest pin in 15 minutes. You should go do the exercise, it'll get you writing.

https://www.royalroad.com/forums/thread/107788

Hit it, Pal! A lot of people on here would kill to have five-hundred followers. Let's figure this out.

Waiting...


The writing for 15 minutes is a good idea! Yeah, when I had backlog it was easier to write, and I was new to RR and it was exciting. Now I've gone through all of that and suddenly have people waiting on me- eep!


I'll go look up some fun images that can relate to my story and get some inspiration going.

Re: How do you stay motivated / on schedule?

#4
This is why I'll probably never upload anything on this site. Writing for fun is important and it's easy to lose it when the pressure of performing shows up. 

Does it become easier if you think of it as a story to finish rather than a bunch of chapters to finish? Finishing a story is a massive goal, one that may span you over the course of years or decades if you stay dedicated to a serial, but focusing on finishing the individual chapters on time means being being stuck in a series of never-ending deadlines. For some people that works, to work with deadlines to stay motivated, but lets not pretend it's not stressful to always have it nipping at the heels. 

Re: How do you stay motivated / on schedule?

#5

Quote:Writing for fun is important and it's easy to lose it when the pressure of performing shows up. 

I don't understand all the fuss about the schedule thing. I mean, if you like a story just subscribe and you will get a notification once the new chapter is ready. The story is free, don't turn it into a product. Don't burn/bore out the writer you like.
Just my opinion, tho.

My secret to stay on schedule in my everyday life (which can be done here on RR)? Think larger.
Promise something in two weeks if you can do it in two days then upload it within a week. Everybody's happy. 

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Re: How do you stay motivated / on schedule?

#6
Cant help you much bud. The only thing keeping my going is the constant presence that writing has on my life. When I wake up, I think about what I will be writing. When I do work, I try to imagine myself as my characters and how they would react to the situation. When I get home, I write as much as I can before going to sleep. I know for a fact that I will get major writers-block. Until that time, I am pumping out 20k words a week. It may sound stressful but it really isn't when I got into it.

It isn't the same with everybody but that's just how it has been for me.

Re: How do you stay motivated / on schedule?

#8

Quentin Wrote:
Quote:Writing for fun is important and it's easy to lose it when the pressure of performing shows up. 

I don't understand all the fuss about the schedule thing. I mean, if you like a story just subscribe and you will get a notification once the new chapter is ready. The story is free, don't turn it into a product. Don't burn/bore out the writer you like.
Just my opinion, tho.

I agree, but most of us were ultimately raised in a performance-based system. It can be hard to get out of the school mentality when that's most of our formative years. *shrug*

Re: How do you stay motivated / on schedule?

#9
I think the problem is simply exercise.  If you're in bad shape, you feel lethargic.  You've already lost that initial writer's energy where you don't wanna do anything but write.  But now you don't have anything to push you forward anymore.  People in great shape are naturally able to overcome this problem.  People in poor shape feel like they have an anchor holding them back.  

Another possibility is to make writing into more of a job like thing for you. If you feel like you have to do it, that you are obligated to work, then you might get a push from that.  How to achieve that job-like atmosphere though is up to you.  Having fans asking for more chapters is one example of this.  

Re: How do you stay motivated / on schedule?

#10
The only fiction I ever put online was a fanfic I wrote in college. I had a deadline I set for myself, but even so I slipped. I ate through my backlog fast, not realizing that I needed to practice making deadlines before leaning on my backlog to make up for exams and papers.

The story was crap. I know, because I rewrote it several years ago, precisely so I could practice that and give better advice to my clients. I never put that version online, but I did use the two versions for training interns. (I didn't tell them who wrote them, just that I had the author's permission. That way their edits were honest and brutal, and therefore excellent training.) 

My advice is that if you want to set any level of professional standard to your work -- and a deadline does that, even if you didn't have patrons to please or disappoint -- you must treat your writing as professional as well. That means your public deadline might be "every 1 unit of time" (whatever that schedule is), but your writing deadline must be "write X words in one week." It doesn't matter what your public schedule is; your schedule is what enables the public deadline. And your private schedule, if you want a backlog in the first place (not everyone here does) must be enough to write more than you need per update or it'll just take one real world inconvenience to ruin your deadline. 

In trad pub, we constantly say that writing is your job, even if you're not getting paid for it. If you don't treat it as a job, it's just a hobby. That's fine, if all you want is a hobby. If you want more, you have to put in the work. 

Start planning it like a job. Want to play a video game? Write 500 words first. Movie? 500 words. Party with friends? Make it a thousand. Or double it, triple it, whatever works. 

There are gamified productivity apps, too. I use Habitica myself, but there are others. Sometimes tools help. Sometimes it's something else, like putting on office work clothing to work in your home office. I've known authors who absolutely needed to wear business dress, right down to the shoes, even though they worked from home. 

I often recommend switching between writing projects in trad pub, like how Gwunders described for web pub. I would likely have the same idea if I were writing fiction for this site. My wife is the opposite; I have ADD, she has CDO (Compulsive Disorder of Obsession, which is identical to OCD but the initials are in alphabetical order). My wife cannot work on two books at once, and so she goes through a long slump before having to admit she needs to switch. Fortunately, she writes very fast, especially when leaning on me for research. I rebuilt her sci-fi world for her, which was part of why she married her editor. (Frankly, I'd love to convince her to try writing for Royal Road.) 

Re: How do you stay motivated / on schedule?

#11
Actually setting myself deadlines and making those deadlines matter helps me.  If I just say "I'd like to get this done by tomorrow" then tomorrow I'll likely tell myself "well I can get away with waiting another day before finishing this".  So to prevent myself from getting away with repeatedly pushing back my deadlines I put chapter release times on my website or Patreon so if I'm late I'm accountable to other people.

It would work better if I had more than three Patrons, but I gotta start somewhere.  And that's 50% more than I had a week ago.  Progress!

Oh and having two separate ongoing projects to update is helping me get more done than just having one thing updating.  I find I procrastinate less this way.

Re: How do you stay motivated / on schedule?

#12
I sit down at the computer.  The windows in the room are blacked out.  I close the door.

Darkness.  Perfect and complete.

Several deep breathes. 

Turn on the PC.

Startup 'I giorni ' for background music.

Set a timer for thirty minutes and start writing.

After thirty minutes, stand up, stretch, twenty pushups, twenty situps, twenty pullups.  

Drink a 1/2 liter bottle of water.

Set the timer for thirty minutes.

~ ~ ~ ~ 

On the days where I can actually devote several hours to writing, I'm sore as hell the next day.

Re: How do you stay motivated / on schedule?

#13
I tell myself I'm going to sit down and write.  Some days I don't.  Most days I do.  However, there have been long periods of time where I've burnt out and not written anything.  I'm still learning ways that help me, personally, to keep up with everything I want to accomplish and I haven't found many yet but I'm working on it, so I suppose I'll share a few.

-A change of scenery.  Even if it's only moving from one to another, or working in a coffee shop for a short time.  If you're surrounded by the same thing all the time then the inspiration is going to lack -- at least it does for me.  I'm not entirely sure why, but it does.
-A clean workspace does wonders.  A lot of the times I'll clean up a few things in the house first so I feel productive and therefore more motivated.
-Really struggling?  Take a step back.  Read.  Read a great book from an author you love or someone with a writing style you admire.  It may just help inspire you.
-Don't punish yourself for failing.  Rather, reward yourself for completing it.  I suppose anxiety does work for some and there is nothing wrong with that, but mine will keep me up for hours a night instead of letting me sleep if I let it get to me so I try not to punish my brain for a moment of weakness.  
-Write something terrible.  Don't publish it, just write it.  Write whatever comes into your brain no matter how stupid.  There!  You wrote something.  Now make it better. 

I've also considered getting together a small group of writing friends to keep us all motivated, give feedback, read each other's work, etc. but I don't know enough people here to do that yet. 

Re: How do you stay motivated / on schedule?

#14
I'm a firm believer that motivation is...useful but not really desirable. Discipline is better.

So what it sounds like to me, is you want good habit advice. If you wanna just read a couple of books on the subject I'd suggest 'Elastic Habits' and 'Atomic Habits' both of which I've personally found useful.

To drop in a couple of easy tips,

Pick a place, to do your writing. only do writing while you're there. If it means having your 'writing chair' where if you're sitting there, you're writing. If you're not, don't sit in the chair. Another good one is a setup like a 'writing lamp.' Its a lamp, you turn on when you want to DO THE THING and if its on, that's what you're doing. Nothing else. If you find yourself struggling with these things, just stop, get out of the chair, turn off the lamp, and leave. If you can have a dedicated room it would be better. Your brain can get in the zone easier if it has dedicated things like this.

Second, I'd suggest setting it up writing as a micro habit, and just have a daily event, where you record if you wrote or not. Micro habits, are habits that are too small to fail. If you can say, get a habit of sitting down in your writing chair, opening your word processor of choice and say, writing a single sentence would that be too hard? So do that. You only have to write one sentence. Just the one. Having a shit day? Write your one sentence, save the doc, close it up, and go do something else. You already did all you had to do. If you wanna do more? Thats on you. You can do this for say, a single pushup, or for any habit really. And just keep doing that little bit every day.

I personally make a single cup of green tea to demarcate me starting to write. I do all of it from one chair, I do it AFTER the same events in my day. (shower, a couple of house chores, etc.) Makes getting into it a lot easier. Hope those couple of things help.