As an indie publisher, I don’t have any deadlines. This is both fantastic and terrible.
Fantastic because I don’t have any deadlines! I can keep working on a book until it’s perfect!
Terrible because I don’t have any deadlines. I could keep working on a book forever, because it will never be perfect.
So what do I do about this? I set myself deadlines. HARD ones. And I get things done on time.
1. Put your book up for preorder three months early. This way you have to get it done by a certain date. You don’t have a choice. And it’s terrifying. Terror is an excellent motivator.
2. Set a minimum goal. This seems obvious, but figuring out what your minimum goal is can be difficult. I’ve found that setting high goals works best. Like, say, 4000 words. I know it sounds crazy, but think of how many books you could get done in a year!
3. Don’t decide that today is washing day. Or, if you’re like me, washing week. Don’t clean the house, vacuum, do the washing up, reorganise your bookshelf, stack your Tupperware neatly or do any other unimportant, menial tasks to avoid doing your work. This also applies to cooking. Ain’t nobody got time for procrastibaking.
4. Don’t panic that you’re taking your story in the wrong direction and decide that you need a little time off to think. If you do this, a week later you’ll have planned out another three novels in a different series but still have exactly the same problem with your current novel, and you will have lost a week.
5. If you want to make money from this, treat it like a job. I know that sounds a little depressing, but really it shouldn’t. Set your goal. Write that amount. Revel in the fact that writing down your weird daydreams can make you money.
6. Stop doing ‘research’. Listening to podcasts, reading blogs on marketing, reading other books in your genre: these are all important things for marketing, but not really handy unless you’ve actually written something. So write the thing first.
7. Remove distractions. This is obvious, but also something no one does. Clean up your desk (but see step three – do not spend all day doing this). Get off Twitter/stop checking your emails/quit scrolling through tumblr/remind yourself that Facebook will only make you despair for humanity, and write. If you need to, get some software that will stop you from going on certain sites while you’re meant to be writing.
8. Employ the NaNoWriMo principle. Get the words down. Don’t go back and edit. The only time you’re allowed to go back is to add in an extra event. No deleting, no fine-tuning at this stage. Hit the word count. Repeat the next day. Editing comes later. There is no use in editing a perpetually unfinished book.
9. Write through the block. We’ve all been there. You get to a point where suddenly, everything is hard and you feel like your brain is submerged in glue and you have no idea what to say next. Making it to 40 words seems impossible, let alone 4000. Do it anyway. Usually it only takes about 200 words until you find your feet and get back into the writing groove. Trust me, just power through. I know it’s a cliche, but dentists don’t get dentist’s block. Do your job. See step five.
10. Do not write a productivity blog post outlining all the things you’ve failed to do over the past couple of weeks in order to procrastinate some more rather than work on your novel! (Even if you are up to a really hard bit and you don’t know how they’re going to survive this attack in the forest because Satan isn’t around to save them this time and neither’s the Grim Reaper…)