What Are Your Writing Non-Negotiables?

I think writing non-negotiables are a great idea. Rose_dark_death_220937_l

What are they?

Writing non-negotiables are the the tasks you don't negotiate with yourself, you just do.  They are the one thing or several things that you must–in agreement with yourself–do every day.  If you don't do them, you'll feel lousy.  If you do them, you'll feel successful. 

Why are they a good idea?

Because writing non-negotiables keep you in balance.  They are a constant reminder of what you want to accomplish.  I have three:

1.  Work on my author platform.  Since I have a novel coming out next year, I want to make sure my social media presence is sharp and wide ranging.  This includes blog posts and Twitter.  It would and should include Facebook, except I'm allergic to it.  This is far and away the easiest non-negotiable and I usually have to force myself to stop doing it.

2.  Make money.  Every day, I must do some writing or coaching that contributes to me making money.  For many of us, a no-brainer.

3.  Make progress on my novel.  I admit, this is the one that most often does not get accomplished.   I have a broad definition of the word "progress," too.  For instance, earlier this week I sent a chapter out to my critique group.  That counted.  Reading over notes counts, too.  You get the idea.

If you're interested in the concept of writing non-negotiables, feel free to steal any of mine that work for you.  You can easily keep track of them in a success journal (just make note of any and all successes at the end of the day. ) And consider some of these non-negotiables as well:

4.  Write a sentence.  I had a friend whose singular goal around writing was to write one sentence a day for a year.  She accomplished it and she was content with what she had done.  Never underestimate the power of one sentence.  It has power on its own, or it can lead to more.

5.  Write a poem.  Some people like to write a poem a day.  I bow down to them.  I'm not that good of a poet, but for many the practice encourages their other writing.

6.  Write a blog post.  I've known bloggers who write a blog post a day.  I did this for awhile a few years back and then it about killed me.  But you might choose to do it for a limited time, say, a month.

7.  Commit to a word count.  10K a day, anyone?  You don't have to be a super-hero at the computer to enjoy producing a consistent number of words every day.  1,000 seems to be a good goal for many people.

8.  Revise a page.  When you're in rewriting mode, it is hard to abide by word count.  But find a way to set a goal for yourself.   A certain number of pages might do it.

9.  Morning pages.  Many writers, myself included, find journaling first thing in the morning to be of enormous help to their creativity.  These cycle on and off of my non-negotiable list.

Those are my suggestions.  What are yours?  Do you have a list of daily non-negotiables?  Please share.

 Photo by Rotorhead.

16 Responses to What Are Your Writing Non-Negotiables?

  1. J.D. 06/07/2012 at 04:30 #

    I turn off the TV. This is sometimes difficult. My goal is to banish the damn thing. If I can’t write, I read. Your flowers are dying? If you have library, you have a master gardener within reach. I turn on my ESP. It is sometimes uncanny what you can channel. And that #7, that word count thing, that’s going in my cart!

  2. Karen Phillips 06/07/2012 at 05:59 #

    This month I am attending a spiritual centering class, Charlotte. My newest daily non-negotiable is two twenty minute centering or prayer times a day. Another is physical exercise, especially stretching my hips in the morning. With my writing, journaling at least three pages a day is on the list. Yesterday, I finished (the hand written part, still have to get it typed into the computer) the first draft of my first novel! The next non-negotiable is to get all those scenes printed and in some kind of order and outlined. Then I’m incorporating your #8.

  3. Charlotte Dixon 06/07/2012 at 07:29 #

    I've been enjoying TV way too much lately and I'm in the process of separating from it.  I also tend to feel guilty that my yard doesn't look perfect, but I'd rather be writing than gardening any day (used to love gardening, I don't know what's happened).  Writing is a demanding occupation but its the best one imaginable!

  4. Charlotte Dixon 06/07/2012 at 07:30 #

    Congratulations on finishing your first draft!  That's so exciting.  I hope you celebrate.  You'll be on your way to revising in no time. 

  5. Sarah Allen 06/07/2012 at 09:31 #

    I really like this way of thinking about things. I’ll have to take a leaf from your book, and a few of these ideas as well.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  6. Charlotte Dixon 06/07/2012 at 10:01 #

    I always think the comments are better than the post, and this time is no different.  Glad you're getting some inspiration!

  7. Sandra / Always Well Within 06/07/2012 at 11:58 #

    This is brilliant! I love the idea. It will take a little time to sort out what my non-negotiables are, but I will probably steal a few of yours! Just the encouragement and clarity I needed. Thank you, Charlotte.

  8. Charlotte Dixon 06/07/2012 at 12:16 #

    Please, feel free to steal, Sandra!  And I'm glad it was helpful.

  9. Fear of Writing 06/08/2012 at 05:27 #

    My primary non-negotiable is to prioritize my day. I use the Writer’s Digest Planner and different colored felt tips for different types of tasks or levels of priority. I can instantly look at my day and see what I should be doing first (the imperatives for my writing life overall) and which commitments to other writers (students, guest bloggers, etc.) I must keep that day. And which falls into the “If there’s time left over” category.

    I write every day (M-F), in some form or other, but my To-Do list is a saving grace when those spontaneous moments of inspiration hit – those moments where I’m ON FIRE with a certain idea and want to jump on it while it’s still burning hot. With a glance at my To-Do list, I can tell which stuff can be moved over to the next day to free my time in the moment. Still gotta meet my major commitments for the day … but this trick allows for unforeseen creative outbursts as well.

  10. Charlotte Dixon 06/08/2012 at 06:56 #

    Wow, I love this idea, Milli.  I'm googling Writer's Digest Planner next–didn't know such a thing existed.  And I love the idea of using different colored felt tips.  I'm not good at scheduling on paper.  I do it in my brain, but I think its time to try something else.  Thanks for the good idea.

  11. Elizabeth Westmark 06/08/2012 at 18:41 #

    I have a bone to pick with you, Charlotte. You have way too many things for me to read and digest that I consider essential, which means every time I click on your site from my blogroll, I wind up staying here so long I run out of time to check out my other friends’ blogs.

    :) What a great problem to have !!

    In other words: thank you for all this great stuff.

  12. Charlotte Dixon 06/08/2012 at 19:54 #

    You had me nervous there for a minute, Elizabeth!  I'm SO pleased you find the content worthwhile and thank you for commenting–I love the writing community we have here!

  13. Heather Jenkins 06/10/2012 at 13:09 #

    My writing non-negotiables?
    1. I don’t negotiate with terrorists (those critics – inner and otherwise – who aim to terrorize me into an inert, catatonic, non-productive state).
    2. Write when I can, because I can.
    3. Remember that what works for others may not (and probably won’t) work for me.
    4. Write until the end…of the sentence, paragraph, page, idea.
    5. Write for me. Audience is important, too, but I write to breathe and fly in the blue skies of freedom.

    Thank you so much for this list. I plan to link to this on my blog (hope you don’t mind) and list my own. You’ve created a renewed energy for writing. Thanks.

  14. Charlotte Dixon 06/10/2012 at 14:13 #

    Please, link away, and thank you for that.  This is a great list and what I love about it is that you know yourself so well and plan (and act) accordingly.  That makes such a difference.  I'm so pleased if I've made some small difference in your writing life.

  15. Barbara Shallue 06/14/2012 at 11:25 #

    What a great list! I’ve found that as soon as I create a non-negotiable list, something happens in my life that makes sticking to more than one or two things impossible. So perhaps on my list right now there’s only one thing… write something. Or read something. On a good day, I’ll do both!

  16. Charlotte Dixon 06/14/2012 at 12:19 #

    Hey, I think any day with writing and reading in it is a great day!  And seriously, sometimes all you can mange is to write a word or two–but that counts!  Thanks for commenting.

Leave a Reply