- Have a Plan: Create a schedule, a daily word count of what you need to do and when you want to do it. This can be as strict or lax as you want it to be, as long as you’re careful to cater your plans to your life and the way that you write.
- Be territorial about your time: In order to stick to your plan you’ll need to establish set time periods that are devoted to writing. Guard them the way you would a shift at work. For many this may mean disconnecting from social media, forgoing time that would typically be spent with friends (or even family) in addition to other sacrifices. Make your manuscript a top priority.
- Enter the zone: Studies show that “the zone” is actually a neurological state (often called flow state) where your brain reaches a production peak. In order to find your own flow you’ll need to eliminate distractions (many people find music helps with this) and, in doing so, enter the mental space where you feel most comfortable creating. Essentially you’re trying to lose yourself in your work.
- Plot: I know this is difficult for a lot of my fellow pansters (expect a post on plotting for the non-linear minded sometime in the near future) but it will save you a lot of time and a lot of strife if you have a vague idea of where your story is headed before you begin.
- Don’t use getting stuck as an excuse to stop: If you can’t force yourself to write then plot, if you can’t force yourself to plot then read, if you’re not in the mood for reading research by watching films that inspire or educate you. Just because your muse hasn’t showered you with grace does not mean you should abandon your efforts. Remember time is of the essence.
- Stay Energized: This means managing your sleep schedule, eating well, and doing all of the things that help you stay healthy both physically and psychologically. You can’t expect to produce when you don’t give your body the basic components it requires to function. Be kind to yourself.
- Read: Read good books and read them a lot. They will help you, they will inspire you, they will help you become better and write faster.
- Don’t second guess yourself: It’s not the time and it’s not the place. This means no massive revisions, no obsessive editing. Take notes as you go and save your misgivings for rewrites and revisions.
- Push Yourself: Of all the things I’ve mentioned this point is the most difficult for me (and I think many other writers) to grasp. In order to finish a novel you need to force yourself to write when you’re tired, when you’re uninspired, when you’re angry, when you have other things to do and when you have other things you want to do. It’s a commitment and it’s a challenge and it’s one you have to devote yourself to completely if you want to finish fast.
- Keep your eye on the prize: This is imperative. If you fail to do this you will drag your feet or abort the idea of finishing entirely. Remind yourself why your story is valuable to you, reread your favorite parts, write the scenes that give you chills. Indulge yourself by loving your story, your characters and your work.
(Image by David Mello)