Francine dreams and dreams of the characters she is going to create for the book she plans to write as soon as she has a full day to devote to writing.
Alyssa stops for a moment before she rushes out the door to school and stares at the beautiful brand new journals that are just waiting to be filled with all the book ideas she has floating around in her mind. She just doesn’t have the time to write in them.
Greg has the plot of his first book planned and every scene is perfect, but he doesn’t think he will ever have the time to actually write the book.
Can you relate to any of these young writers?
Writing can be exciting, reflective, and rewarding – however, it takes time. Sometimes writers just feel like they don’t have time to write. They want to write consistently but don’t have the time to finish the first chapter and really get their book going. They have tons of story ideas but are never able to actually get them down on paper to turn them into a story.
Not that long ago, this was me. I had no consistency. I would sit down one day and write for an hour and then I would come back to it a month later and try to write more. I didn’t get anywhere because I didn’t have a writing habit. I didn’t have writing goals. I didn’t have accountability. Writing wasn’t my priority. It was only a dream.
This year, I turned my dream into a goal, and I’ve written so much more because of that. And today, I am going to share with you how I did it and how you can do it too.
The # 1 Problem Young Writers Face When Trying To Write Consistently
We all agree consistency is the key to writing consistently, but how do we get there? What keeps us from writing consistently?
The problem that so many young writers come across is that they think they don’t have enough time to write consistently.
Most young writers believe they are too busy to try to write consistently, but if writing was a priority for them, they would take the time to write consistently.
Take any other activity. Francine from our introduction is a soccer player. She absolutely loves soccer. Her team, The Goal Getters, is ranked top in their division. She practices soccer on her own every day for at least a half-hour and with her team twice a week for 2 hours each practice. Her soccer cleats, socks, and uniform match perfectly and are always ready for her next game. At every game, her family is there to cheer her on wildly. Now, what if Francine took that same approach to writing? What if Francine were writing daily and getting cheered on by her family? That would change her writing from a dream into a reality.
Imagine if your writing was as prioritized. Imagine finishing your first draft of a novel. Signing your first book deal. Getting published. Signing your first book for that huge fan.
Stop imagining, and come back to reality for a bit, because I am going to share with you how to do that.
Step #1: Develop Your Goal
The first step to writing consistently is to develop your goal.
When you are considering setting a consistent goal, there are five things you need to do. One of the most helpful ways to decide on a goal is using the “S.M.A.R.T.” method developed by Peter Drucker and George Doran. Here are the five recommendations the method proposes for developing effective goals:
Make your goals specific and clear for more effective planning
Make it so you can go back and see how far you’ve come, and see how farther you need to go to hit your goal.
Make sure you can hit that goal when you want to. That way, when you are first starting out writing consistently, you won’t be discouraged that you didn’t hit your goal because it wasn’t attainable.
The main part of making your goal relevant is asking yourself the question, “Is writing a priority?” That way you are staying relevant to your long-term goals.
Lastly, make it timely in a doable, and realistic time frame.
For example, if you have never been consistent before, maybe your first goal will be to write in your journal every night before you go to bed for one week. Then once, you hit that goal you can make a new goal.
Maybe you already write consistently a little bit but you want to make more time to write. You could set a goal of writing 5 days a week, right after school for the next month.
Step #2: Get Accountability
How do you get accountability to hit your goals?
No matter how hard you work, you need accountability, you need someone to motivate you. Cheer you on. Celebrate with you in your achievements. Get you out of a slump. Make you want to hit your goals. Keep you going. You need accountability.
Accountability is the key to hitting your writing goals, and generally, any other goal in life.
Ask a parent, friend, sibling, neighbor, cousin, teacher, aunt, uncle, anyone who will keep you accountable and support you. Talk to them, tell them about your goal, and ask them if they would be your accountability partner.
For more details on getting accountability, check out this article.
Step #3: Form a Habit
Developing a writing habit is one of the most important steps of being a successful writer.
We already have habits, without doing anything! Eating, sleeping, cleaning, brushing our teeth, etc, ourselves are all examples of habits.
A habit forms by repeatedly doing something until it becomes instinct. If you wrote 50 words every morning for a month, that would become a habit, and you would get a positive result: 15,00 words to be exact.
One thing that will help you develop your habit is finding your best time and place to write. Here are three tips for finding your best time and place to write.
1. Eliminate distractions
Focusing on your writing isn’t going to go well if you are constantly getting distracted by your phone, a family member, or a friend, even if that person is just popping in to see how writing is going. It’s still an interruption.
Talk to your family and let them know that you are going to be writing and ask them to not come in while you write.
Try turning off your device. You will be able to focus so much better if you aren’t getting distracted by that text or that new post that you just have to see. Try leaving your phone or other devices in the other room. Another option is turning your phone to airplane mode. If you are writing on your computer try using an app like Freedom to block websites.
Stop trying to multitask. Writing will go much faster and better if you are not trying to do other things.
2. Find your best place to write.
Think about where you are able to get quiet work done. Are you best sitting at a desk? Do you work better sitting on your bed or is your living room couch a great spot for you to work? Try out writing in different spaces until you find one that seems right to you.
3. Find your best time to write
Now think about when you are most productive. Are you a night owl? If so, you would want to plan your writing time at night. However, if you are a morning person then you definitely don’t want to schedule your writing time for late at night.
Answering these questions will help you become a much better, faster, and more focused writer, and all of these things will help you become more consistent.
Step #4: Give Yourself a Reward
There needs to be something you are working towards. Once you hit that goal and form that habit, give yourself a reward.
Whatever that is, such as going out for ice cream, or buying that new journal, give yourself a reward.
Step #5: Don’t Forget Your Goal
To work towards your goal, you have to keep it in mind. If you want to be goal-oriented, you have to focus on it. Here are three tips to help you remember your goal and keep it constantly in your sights.
1. Write it.
Write it down so you will not forget, and put it up somewhere so you can look at it, and stay focused on it.
2. Recite it.
Say it to yourself. Something I’ve realized is that the more you think about a goal, the more excited you get about it. The more you recite that goal to yourself the more excitement and motivation you have for that goal will grow.
3. Go for it!
Work towards forming that habit and hitting your goal so you can get the reward that you set earlier.
Using the three tips above will help you keep your goal in mind, which will lead to forming your habit, hitting your goal, and then, getting that reward.
Step #6 Guarding Your Writing Time
Once you develop your goal, form a habit, and reward yourself, you are going to be pretty consistent.
How do you stay consistent when life gets busy? How do you guard that time you’ve set aside and make sure it isn’t taken over?
Since you have made writing a priority and developed a writing habit, now you need to guard your writing time. You need to make sure it isn’t just pushed aside and forgotten. Here are a few tips to help you guard your writing time.
Make sure you tell your family and friends that writing is important to you. Your writing is much less likely to be pushed aside if your family and friends know that it is important to you. They will very likely support you, help you grow, and give you time to write.
Decide how you are going to use your writing time. You can guard it much better if you have a plan for what you are going to work on. Making a daily, weekly and even monthly plan for what you are going to accomplish in your writing time will give you direction and make you more productive.
Applying these tips will stop your writing from getting pushed aside in the rest of life’s busyness.
Step #7: Give Yourself a Break (so you don’t burn out)
Burning out is a major problem young writers face.
When you find yourself forcing pen to paper, unable to really enjoy what you’re doing… you might be hitting burnout.
Building a writing habit is going to be hard and there will be natural resistance and times when you really don’t feel like writing.
But burnout is a different, more consistent problem.
That’s why we need to take regular, scheduled breaks. Maybe you’ll designate one day a week where you don’t write, or you’ll put in specific exceptions for when you’re sick or go on holiday.
Don’t feel bad if you need a longer break! Sometimes external factors can get overwhelming. Just make sure that you’re taking a break for your mental health and not because building a habit is tough.
Your Next Steps
I know we covered a lot in this article.
We’ve talked about what consistency is and why we need as writers, how difficult it is to be consistent, how to develop your goal and stay consistent, how habits form, how to develop your own writing habit, how to reward yourself for hitting your goals, how to keep your goal in mind, how to guard your writing time, and how to give yourself a break.
Want more in-depth tips on how to write consistently? Check out this free guide by Jaquelle Ferris, best-selling author and someone who I think of as the Queen of Teen Consistency. Her guide is honest and inspiring. She tells the story of how consistency as a writer brought her to the point where she was able to be published at a young age.
Click the image below to download the guide.