If you’ve been following my blog for the last few months, you’ll know I’ve been spending this year working on rewrites.
I’m currently rewriting the second book in my YA series, Blackbirch. I wrote the first draft of book two in 2003, the fifth draft in 2018, and that’s the one I’m rewriting now in 2019.
In fact, I’ve been writing this whole series since 2001, when I penned the first draft for book one (which is being published early next year), and along the way, managed to write four drafts for book three, and five for book four.
This isn’t a humble brag or record. In all honesty, I should have been done with this series years ago. The point I’m (badly) trying to make is that we can work on a piece of writing for a long time. And when you’ve worked on something for so long and you know the twists, turns, and the characters inside out, writing yet another draft is usually the last thing you want to do.
You lose your writing mojo and doing anything other than working on your MS is instantly more appealing. It also doesn’t help that we’re in an age of peak TV and Marvel movies.
So, how do you get the will to write back? What have I done to sit at my keyboard and rewrite a scene I know so well I can quote whole passages from it? It involves hitting up an old productivity favorite and drumming up some friendly competition.
The Key To Getting Your Writing Mojo Back
Set A Time Limit
As talked about in one of my first blogs, using a timer method like the Pomodoro Technique gets you writing. You might not want to work on your book, but are you willing to for only 25 minutes?
If you can sit down and do that, chances are you’ll want to keep writing. Even if you don’t, you still wrote for 25 minutes and added sentences that wouldn’t have existed if you’d watched another episode of The Big Bang Theory again instead.
If you feel you can go above and beyond a 25-minute timer, commit to an hour of writing a day. The reason it took me eighteen years to get four books (mostly) written was because the first few years I was writing sporadically. There were even six whole years where I didn’t write at all.
To get back into the habit of regular writing, and to make some actual progress on the series, I committed to writing for one hour a day.
That was it! Just one hour. It got me into the habit of daily writing and is the reason I have more than just one measly draft of each book.
Seek Some Friendly Competition
Now, when you’re on something like the twentieth draft (true story) and so sick of your story, all the one hour time blocks in the world will not get you at your keyboard. When that happens, it’s time to up the ante and seek some friendly competition.
I did this recently when I joined the #6amAusWriters on Twitter. If you’re on Twitter, I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of “am” writing hashtags. I scrolled past them for months. Finally, knowing I really wanted to get my rewrites done after six months of rearranging my sentences, I joined such a hashtag.
Suddenly, I was working on my MS at a time when I was previously sleeping, penning words I honestly don’t think I would have gotten down otherwise. Writing first thing agreed with me (although some mornings it’s a struggle). And while I don’t recommend staying up to midnight binge-watching season 3 of Stranger Things and then expecting to write anything coherent six hours later, it can be done (another true story).
As for the friendly competition aspect, everyone checks in at the end of the hour. Although we’re all working on different things and at different speeds, there’s something motivating about saying you wrote 500 words or hearing how someone else cracked 1,000. It makes you want to beat your own word count. Having others waiting to check-in/write with you also inspires you to show up again the next day (although I draw the line at getting up that early on weekends).
Having that allotted, shared writing time made me focus—as long as I don’t get caught in a Twitter rabbit hole finding the perfect “I’m here” gif. There have even been days when the only time I got any work done on my draft was because I was up writing with others at 6 am.
If you can find yourself a similar group, or an accountability buddy, use the friendly competition to help you find your love of writing again. Teamed with timed goals, I’ve found it’s the key to getting your writing mojo back.
— K.M. Allan