4 Tips to Help Writers Stay on Track

08 Feb

This writing business is not an easy one. Especially if you are unpublished. Doubts and uncertainty can have you questioning yourself and your writing. Here are four tips for keeping yourself on track and keeping your head in the game.

1. Keep Track of Your Goals. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the little things. Did you finish that chapter? Write 200 words today? Send out 3 query letters? Whatever your goals are – for the day, week or month – write them down and when you’ve met those goals acknowledge it. Do a happy dance. Eat a piece of chocolate. Read a book. Whatever it is, take a moment to say “well done.” We are our own CEOs, CFOs, assistants and mail room clerks. Send yourself a memo, but recognize your achievement in some manner.

2. Tell Your Inner Critic to Shove it. We all have to start with that first word, that first sentence as a writer. It might be good right out of the gate, but for the great majority of us there is a steep learning curve ahead. That’s okay. The more time spent learning and making mistakes the better writers we become. When your inner critic pops up and starts to badger you – tell them to shove it. Draw a picture and put a pin in it. Channel all that bad mojo into a ball and throw a blanket over it. Whatever you need to do – don’t let that buzz-kill pull you down.

3. Take a Class. Not sure if your dialogue is realistic? Does your POV tend to wander? Is “uh-oh” your favorite word and a word find just discovered 38 usages in your first 2 chapters? Take a class. There are any number of wonderful online classes available. RWA lists online chapter workshops under chapter programs. Margie Lawson has a wide variety of wonderful classes available each month at her website. A lot of these classes are affordable, can really help your writing and can be a great way to connect with other writers.

4. Be your own Cheerleader. Writing is a solitary endeavor. It’s important to be your own biggest fan. Believe in yourself. A lot of people talk about writing a book, but you are doing it. Or maybe you’ve already done it. That’s a huge accomplishment in and of itself. Celebrate that. Do you have a favorite sentence or two that you’ve written? Put it somewhere where you can see it. You wrote that. These are your words. That’s pretty darn cool.

Is there something that you do to keep yourself on track?


Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Idaho


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9 responses to “4 Tips to Help Writers Stay on Track

  1. Janis McCurry

    February 8, 2012 at 6:31 AM

    I keep on track two ways. I’m accountable to my CPs. Of course, there are times when life happens and I don’t have work to share, but OTOH, it’s homework and I won’t let myself show up continually with no work done.

    The second way is with a woman at work. She’s not in my dept, but she has me on her monthly tickler file. She e-mails me to see if I’ve submitted a query (I have troubled remembering to query the old stuff because I’m more excited with the new work).

  2. Johanna Harness

    February 8, 2012 at 6:41 AM

    Love these ideas, Meredith. I keep on track with long-term and short-term goals and deadlines. Usually when I have trouble meeting my deadlines, I need to re-evaluate my goals.

  3. Liz Fredericks

    February 8, 2012 at 7:07 AM

    Using WriteWay has been helpful to me to track progress. Lately, I’ve been tracking the goals I haven’t met ~ LOL ~ but that’s important to know too. As Johanna noted, re-evaluating goals (increasing and decreasing production targets) is as important as setting the initial objectives.

  4. Peggy Staggs

    February 8, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Great, great tips! Now if I could just get that inner critic to take a vacation.

  5. ramblingsfromtheleft

    February 8, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Meredith, I love your ideas of how to kill off the inner critic in all of us. Smash the little demon and send him packing back in to the universe. Then I might do a happy dance, read a book and go back to work where that darn pest can’t find me 🙂 Great post for all of us who travel down that lonely road to publication.

  6. Clarissa Southwick

    February 8, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Great tips, Meredith. I credit my critique partners for keeping me on track. They are much nicer than my inner critic.

  7. Lynn Mapp

    February 8, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    I agree with Peggy. That inner critic it very loud. It’s hard to get it to s-h-u-t up.

  8. Marsha R. West

    February 8, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    Great post, Mererdith. Yes, we are all ultimately responsible for our own actions. Keeping track of our progress toward our goals is super important. No one else is going to do that for us. I also like the idea of being a cheerleader for our work. It’s not being vain to say, “I like this. If it were not mine, I’d pick it up to read.” That doesn’t mean we don’t try to make it the best it can be. But at some point, you stop and send the baby out. Just as a good parent is constantly preparing the child to stand on his or her own, that’s what we do as author’s. Good thoughts as always from this blog.

  9. Mary Vine

    February 9, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    The best way, I can think of, is to be part of a challenge, such as 100 words a day.


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