Lulls and Peaks

I like to think of myself as a “sort-of writer.” I have a few stories in books, a couple of big pieces that people might have heard of and a small–but much appreciated–circle of social network followers who like my work. But, right now, I’m in a dry spell. I don’t have that much new work appearing, and I worry that my profile is diminishing.

That’s the problem with being in charge of your own development. The lulls, the dry spells, the times when months pass by with nothing happening—they’re my fault. They happen because my day job has been busy, because I’ve been sick, because I’ve been too busy enjoying myself or editing my novel for my MA. And all of these reasons are good reasons not to produce any new work, but they don’t make the dips in productivity any easier.

So, how do you keep your momentum going when the mood doesn’t take you?

 

1. Little and Often.

If I’d kept up working on new projects for 30 minutes a day, I know I could write around thirty thousand words a month. That’s no small number. But it is a small amount of time. There are even websites that can help with this. I love http://www.750words.com, a website that encourages you to write 750 words each day. Watch your word count grow over the month and you’ll be surprised.

2. The Big Picture.

With a spare hour, I may well rather be watching TV than writing. And sometimes that’s okay. But watching TV doesn’t get my name in print or develop my career. Keeping the bigger picture in mind makes sacrifices seem small.

3. Building a Profile.

Submitting to a magazine or publisher once a week was one of the best habits I ever developed–and sadly, one I lost quickly too. One submission a week equals 52 a year, and the odds of one of those getting accepted is much more likely than one out of two. Get your name out there.

 

Keeping yourself motivated is hard. There are times when it’s just you and the computer and the vague question of whether anyone even cares. But keep going, and the impact on your productivity (and your publishing profile) will speak for itself.

 

Helen Dring is a fiction writer from Liverpool, England. She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing and is currently writing her first novel. She likes fairy tales, ghost stories and modern history.

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