So... you've come back for more. Or you are reading part two first *shrug* you do you. If you did miss part one, it's right here.
You are ready for writing. You're super organised, you have clear boundaries and maybe a focus App or two. Let's sink our teeth into the next round: planning, goals and writer's block.
I know, planning isn’t everyone's cup of tea. But, hear me out. For me, having a solid outline was a savior. I used to think that I was a pantser (writing by the seat of my pants), it turns out I was very wrong. I am a plotter, a huge one.
Once I figured this out, my outline became my lifeline.
Outlines aren't there to give you the finger when a new idea pops into your mind. They aren't set in stone. I like to think of them as a road trip map. It gives me a detailed list of where I am going and what important people or things to see along the way. But, if I want to make a detour, you had best best that I am going to head off the trail, see the cool thing and join back onto the original road when I can.
Sometimes this isn't feasible, and you'll be able to tell... from your outline. This means that the awesome idea just needs to be jotted down for another story. For the most part, though, they can be pretty accommodating.
In my outline, which is a beast of a Google Sheet, I like to do several things at once:
The thing is a troll. Yes, it does take ages. I know. Say it with me... WRITING IS HARD WORK. Obviously, yours doesn't need to be this intense. I am a sucker for punishing myself. I will say, that when I am stuck - - when the nastiness of writer's block sets in - - this can be the solvent that unsticks my mind-glue.
Having a clear idea of what needs to be discussed and hinted at in each chapter means that there is almost no thinking on your part, you just need to write. It should help minimize plot holes and make sure that you know what you are leading up to. If all else fails, it will let you jump forward in your story to write a less troublesome chapter.
Each time you sit at your desk, or in my case: in my hammock, you will know exactly what you were reaching for the last time you wrote. You wont be stuck waiting for ideas to come to you. Hopefully, you wont need to rewrite several chapters because of a huge plot hole.
(NB: Author has done this. Twice. She thought she didn't need to outline. Twice. She was very wrong.)
On to goals. This is my favorite part. I swear. (NB: Author is lying)
It might not be my favorite but it is the one that pushes me. It stares at me with its unchecked boxes, mocking my laziness. Setting goals is like making promises to yourself, holding yourself accountable. If you have a bunch of goals laying unforgotten - - that's on you and you alone.
It is important to set achievable goals. "I will write and publish a book in six months." is doing no one any favors. Whatever the end result you wont be happy with it. On the flip side a goal without a deadline is just a dream. "I will write and publish a book." Yeah... that will work.
You will need to set up long term, medium term and short term goals. All long term goals will make you feel defeated, you wont be able to check anything off for a long time. All short term goals will feel like there is no end in sight. Balance is key. Give yourself enough that you feel like you are working towards those juicy end goals. Medium term goals are the ones that you really want to give yourself a nice reward for, they will be the ones that keep you slogging through that saggy middle you're* writing. (NB: * I am)
For short term goals, I personally like to have one large weekly goals with a sprinkle of smaller weekly goals.
Medium goals tend to be more about finishing a chunk of writing and less about dates (Breaking my own rule *sigh*). They tend to be more like milestones that I reward myself for achieving.
Long term goals have been trickier for me. This is my first time writing a novel that I am going to publish, so I'm not sure how long the process will take. I have set the deadline for the first draft to be finished and self edited by the end of the year. Beta reading for the first 6 months of 2018. More editing and Betas. Then to the professional editor by the end of 2018. Editing again at the start of 2019. Then the slow death of querying by mid of 2019.
Do you see why small and medium goals are a must???
I need a drink... *adds write about goals to medium term goals*...reward unlocked.
Writer's block... ugh. It makes me curl my lip just writing those two words. It's like a nasty little monkey that repeatedly pokes you in the eye so that you can't think straight. Unfortunately, writer's block affects us all - - you think that it would get the hint that no one wants it around. And because no one likes staring at a blank screen during their allotted writing time (which you totally have scheduled - - right?!?) we each have come up with our own little tips and tricks with combating the little jerk.
Several sites and videos give advice on writer's block, and a lot of them say the same thing. Just push through it, and write. Write utter garbage and clean it up later. For some people, they can do this. I have tried. Bearing down with a gritted teeth, trying to birth unwilling words. It sucks. The writing sucks. Editing the resulting garbage sucks.
So let me offer an few tweaks that I've added to "just keep writing".
For me, the best way to deal with writer's block is to move to something smaller for a short time. My absolute favorite is writing an important moment of a minor character's life. What is the reason for that scar? Why do they have trust issues? Why are they in prison? Doing this gives you space from your story. It gives your minor characters depth and sometimes even solves a problem you were having. Your world seems richer because you have explored it more fully. You have a wider range of voices with their variety of experiences and as such have explored the world better.
Another interesting one: write a letter from a antagonist to the main character. What would they say? In the privacy of a letter what would they share? Would they swear, fling insults or accuse the MC of something? Would they send the letter? This has a similar outcome to the previous one, with the added bonus of changing your writing to first person if you normally write in third. I've done this and then wrote a reply a few weeks later. It keeps you thinking of the characters, the events and the world you've made.
Work on your blog, or author page, or Tumblr... whatever you're working on. Switching writing gears can often get you thinking. BUT... that writing time you just sacrificed, needs to be found again. That time you had ear marked for your blogging or author page just became writing your novel time.
Other options if stringing together a coherent piece of writing isn't working out:
If you can't even:
I do agree that it is important to keep writing. Don't give into the monkey. He wants you to watch YouTube videos about writing when you should be writing. Don't let the monkey win.
Well, that's it from me. Go out there and do some planning, give yourself some goals and flip the bird at that writer's block monkey.