At the start of this month I suggested setting yourself a writing challenge to complete by the end of 2013.

My challenge is to complete a novel draft and the first major structural review, meaning that if I want to let it settle for a month I need to finish the first draft by the end of October. Eek!

How are you doing with yours? It’s not too late to join in if you didn’t before, and it’s just a casual, free thing.

I also suggested coming up with 3 things that would help you reach that target. Now, honestly, this is the kind of thing that I often go ‘Ugh’ at and skip over; we all skip over the bits where we actually have to do exercises and think about things properly, right?

But blithely saying you’re going to do something without thinking about how to do it is, well, a bit pointless. If you decided to climb the Three Peaks by the end of the year but failed to choose a date, book your train, buy gear and do any training then it’s

not. gonna. happen.


So. 10 things I’m trying or have set into place to increase my chances of success are:

1. Give yourself time. For some people this means time when the family knows not to interrupt; for me it means I’m not allowed to feel guilty for writing rather than doing other work at set times. It takes time to write a book, much more than you think.

2. Plan. Doesn’t apply if you’re a Pantser, but my mind goes blank under pressure so my plot plan details every major piece of action that needs to happen.

3. Write on paper first. It feels different and means you don’t have to wait until you’re near a computer to write.

4. Prepare for procrastination. Turn wifi off on laptop the night before, bribe yourself with chocolate, use the Pomodoro technique. Whatever you need, but set it up ahead of time.

5. Set daily targets. For some people aiming for an amount of time works better, but I need a word count/time combo to push past the inner critic. Quantity over quality at this stage for me, I’m afraid.

5. Writing retreats! Of course. I’d love for you to join me on a one-day or residential retreat. If you can’t get to one though, get writing friends together or set a day aside to spend alone writing and ask someone to check up on you at the end of it.

6. Hypnosis. Yes, really. I’ve identified my biggest block (self-belief) and will see if listening to a hypnosis recording for a week helps. Let’s see what happens…

7. Start on the right foot. You have to actually want to make your end-of-year target and want to do it because it’s hard work. So I’ve read back over what I’ve done so far and through old notebooks to remember why I write.

8. Be part of something. Join a writing group, go to an event, talk to friends doing creative things, join in the #amwriting hashtag on Twitter, it all feels much more possible if you’re not alone. And to everyone who’s come to the retreats or been part of my online family this month, thank you, you’re ace and you’ve all really inspired me.

9. Stop self-sabotaging. If you don’t write for a week, how do you feel? Do you let it derail your writing for a month? Make a deal that until the end of December you’ll take it one day at a time.

10. Look ahead. I’m planning the next step already so that it’s less overwhelming. Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn is teaching a one-day masterclass for us on 27th October on how to finish and edit your book and get it published.

It’s probably best to just focus on a couple of these so that you’re helping rather than drowning yourself. They’re just a few of a huge range of techniques, and I’m aware that I have a particular take on it – so I’d like to know, what techniques you use to help yourself write and to make sure you can keep going through the tough bits?