1. Listening to your body and mind. You can’t write when you’re not fully functional. Writing is important, but so is not writing every once in a while.
2. Treating your writing time like it’s a “real” job — which means actually writing when you say you’re going to, making checklists, and creating and holding yourself to your own deadlines.
3. Engaging in positive (but realistic) self-talk. Some days, “You’re going to write 500 words gosh darn it! I believe in you!” is going to push you over that edge and help you reach that day’s small but mighty goal.
4. Sticking to a pre-planned writing schedule. Even if you don’t “think” you’re the kind of person who needs to plan in advance, big long-term projects often require it anyway. Make it a habit — even if you don’t always like it.
5. Maintaining a clear and consistent divide between work and fun. You can’t abandon your entire social life, for example, but you do need to learn to set boundaries and say “no” when writing has to come first.
6. Moving on to something else when you’re stuck. Technically, it’s not a rule that you have to write stories chronologically from beginning to end. If a scene is pulling at you, write it, even if it’s out of order.
7. Working when you’d rather not. We’re all human. We all get tired and don’t want to do the things on our to-do lists. To successfully complete a writing project, you have to train yourself to resist the urge to put off your work.
8. Talking less, writing more. We’re all excited about our ideas and want to share them/our process for turning them into things. Save all that for when the idea is already a thing. Do the work first. Write the words.
9. Packaging up your doubt and letting it sit on your desk while you write. You can’t get rid of it, but you might be able to make it shut up for an hour while you get your work done.
10. Always going back to your goals. When the road ahead seems impossible, it will be up to you to remind yourself why you try. It’s not all for nothing. You’re in this for something, and that something matters.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.