Guest blogger Susan Oleksiw says to challenge yourself with a daily record.
No matter what you write, you have to start at the beginning and write until you reach the end. That sounds so boring, and there are times when it is. Staring at a blank page because you can’t think of anything to say is boring and sometimes even worse—brain rattling, crazy making. Still, it does build character—and novels.
One of the tricks I use to keep me going when I’m in danger of drifting away into a round of cleaning out cupboards or checking on the vegetable garden is the daily record. When I begin a novel, I begin a daily record of my work. Whenever I sit down to write, I am committed to putting down something on that record sheet. It doesn’t have to be complicated—the sheet itself can be just one page in a notebook along with notes and research on my current book—but each note does have to be something. I list the number of words written, even if it’s only 50; the research conducted or books consulted; the clues considered; or the number of pages edited. The record reminds me I have to keep working, and also shows me that even during weeks when I think I’m getting nothing accomplished, I do have something to show for my time. Watching that list grow is one way of seeing the novel grow.
The record also tells me when I’m dawdling, taking too much time off, or writing more productively than I realize at first. And sometimes just knowing I have to record something gives me that extra push to keep going when I can’t think, and get something down on paper even if I know I’m going to delete it later and start over.