You’ve probably heard it said a dozen times over, in a dozen ways: the one requirement to be a writer is to write.

But life is cyclical. Priorities change. Things happen. Writing sometimes falls by the wayside, and sometimes it can be hard to get back into it, especially if it’s been a while.

Now, admittedly, I make my living writing and doing writing-related things like editing or book formatting, so I can’t get too far from it. But when things have happened and it’s been hard to work on my personal projects, I like to break out an old standby: the consistency challenge.

These are month-long challenges to write a little every day. Depending on the circumstances, I usually select a goal between 300 and 1000 words. And you do need a goal. Else you end up writing a sentence and calling it good, especially if it’s been a long day, and then you’re not really getting anywhere.

And if you stick with it (though invariably a day or two gets skipped due to extraneous circumstances) you get to the end of the month with a decent amount of words and an idea of how to incorporate writing back into your life on a regular basis.

But I don’t recommend going for more than a month. After a month it no longer makes sense to write just to be writing. At that point you should probably switch to a more dedicated project and set realistic goals to help you get it done. And while some people want–or need to–write every day, it’s not viable for everyone. And 300 words a day may not help you get where you want to go.

Plus if you’re editing or submitting, an arbitrary word count goal is no help whatsoever.

I’m doing a consistency challenge this month. The Fourth threw me off a bit, but I’m back on track and making good progress. It’s nice to be writing again, though it’s only been a little over a month, all told. And I’ve finished a short story that seemed like it would never get done and outlined my part of a joint novel, so it’s all been good.

Do you like the occasional consistency challenge, Squiders? Anything else you like to do to jumpstart your writing again after a break?

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