I often view writing a book the way I view exercising. When I step on the elliptical, I don’t let myself think about the long thirty minutes that lies ahead. Instead, I break it into five minute chunks at different inclines and resistance levels. Then I mentally prepare myself to make it through the next five minutes. I think only about those five minutes. And then the next. And the next. Until, before I know it, 30 long minutes have passed.
With writing, I set daily goals for myself, tiny page goals or word count goals. If I sat down every day with the notion that I had 75-80,000 words to get down on the page, I’d feel so daunted that I’d have the urge to run from the computer screaming. So I never let myself think about the big picture, not at first anyway. I think about the first 2000 words and then the next 2000 and then the next.
When I sit down to write a book, I take out a calendar and put a page number that I’d like to be on at the end of each day for the next three months. At the end of every day, I then check this page number off. I only let myself look at one day at a time. And each day, on its own, feels achievable. Five pages, 2000 words, isn’t so much, is it?
Is it sometimes hard to make myself sit down and write every day? Yes. And do I always stick to every single one of these goals? No. But usually I do, because the goals I set feel very manageable and doable to me.
I guess my point is, that you need to find whatever feels right to you. People write at different speeds, so set a writing goal that makes you feel comfortable, that doesn’t daunt you. And even if you set out to write a novel, pick many smaller goals within this enormous venture to keep you on task.
And if you get stuck – go exercise! I do some of my best brainstorming on the elliptical while I’m trying to make it through my workout, five minutes at a time.