Some writers use promises to themselves to help them get their writing
done. A promise is very specific. There are two things that writers should
be specific about: they should be specific about their actions or their
results. A specific action promise might be: “I commit to writing at least
fifteen minutes a day, six days a week, for a month.” A specific result
promise could be: “I agree to have two chapters written by December 31st
of this year.
One way of making promises effective is by writing them down and
speaking them aloud to others. I tend to forget my promises. I’m good at
keeping them if I write them down. If I don’t write my promises down, I
might keep them or I might not. Making a public commitment seems
important for some people; it evokes a sense of responsibility or shame
that helps them keep the commitment.
We all promise others that we will do things and we usually deliver
what we say we will. So, why is it so hard for writers not to follow through
on their promises to themselves that a particular book will be complete by
a certain date? When I start writing a book or novel, I make sure that I
have a date when I promise myself to have the novel or book completed.
I usually write this tentative date on my calendar in a prominent place
where I write so that I could get closer to my goal each and every day.
For most writers, unless (s)he has a contract from a publisher, (s)he will
have a difficult time to complete the novel or book on time. This is sad
since our promises to ourselves should have the same merit as our
promises to others. However, once a writer has a contractual obligation to
complete the manuscript by a certain date, (s)he will produce it.
I urge all writers to take the time to make written commitments about
their writing projects themselves. If they need to, as I do, call up a writing
friend or tell your critique group that you are beginning a book and when
you plan to complete it. Have them keep reminding you to complete your
manuscript by the prescribed time or date. This is one way to successfully
complete your writing commitments.