Starting at draft 5, and then for every other draft, I asked a handful of friends to read my book to give a different perspective on how the book was going. So many people spent hours reading and making notes of what worked and what didn’t work. Knowing that people were expecting a draft gave me extra incentives to keep going. Even though the entire project took much longer than I thought and the final deadline was getting pushed further and further back, it was good to keep working toward those smaller deadlines. It also gave me a break from editing when other people were reading my drafts.
When I didn’t have any readers, I continued to work toward smaller deadlines, such as editing ten pages per day. Sometimes inputting my readers’ suggestions was harder than editing it myself because they pointed out problems that I had overlooked and struggled to solve. Some days (weeks, months) when it was tempting to shelve the whole project I was glad that I knew that so many people were expecting a book, and then I would get back to work.
I love listening to entire albums so I have an hour or so where I’m not interrupted and can just focus on writing. I tended to listen to the same album repeatedly for several weeks and then switch to something that I hadn’t memorized yet. Favorites include Zoë Keating’s Into the Trees, Jeremy Soule’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (a game soundtrack with music similar to Lord of the Rings), the Interstellar soundtrack, Tyco’s Dive, Imogen Heap’s Sparks, London Grammar’s If You Wait, and Lorde’s Pure Heroine.
I also went through seasons of favorite beverages to drink while I was working. Having a “special” drink to slowly savor helped motivate me to sit down and work. I made cup after cup of herbal tea, drank small cups of cold brew coffee, and tried different brands of specialty root beers. I even spent a week driving to 7-Eleven every afternoon to get a Coke Slurpee. Often those drinks would help trigger my brain that it was time to sit down and work.
Water gets its own section because it helped me through many long editing days. I’ve been reading lately that water is supposed to help you focus, and when I found myself daydreaming and not wanting to do anything at all, a full glass of water usually helped me get back on track. I’ve heard from several others in my writing group that water is also very effective for them, and while I can’t find a link to a reliable article, it definitely works for me. My focus improves significantly after I drink a glass of water, so I try to always keep a full glass close by. Just yesterday I didn’t feel like getting anything done, but then I remembered that I hadn’t been drinking water. A glass and a half later, I felt alert and ready to work.
Finally, what better way to motivate yourself than chocolate? I prefer to buy fancy chocolate and then eat just a small square every day, but when I didn’t have any chocolate around, I settled for chocolate chips. My new favorite chocolates, discovered during editing my book, include Chocolate Xoxo in dark chocolate cherry and Bark Thins in dark chocolate pumpkin seed with sea salt. And the Bark Thins are fair trade! A friend gave me a liter of popcorn kernels, and they lasted for months. Fresh popcorn with garlic salt and chocolate are a perfect snack combination.