In recent years, I have been lucky enough to spend much of my day writing. Of course, most of this time is spent trying to get started, trying to avoid getting started, or trying to convince myself that I didn't really want to write in the first place.
But gradually, I have hazarded upon a handful of strategies that seem to make the whole process a little less painful. I hope they work for you too. (And please share any of your own tips).
1) Create your writing space
Whether it's a whole room, a desk, or a corner of the kitchen table where you always work, invest a little time in creating a formal space for your writing: it lends an authority to your goal, reduces the risk of squandering time on locating the right tools and place; and, most importantly for me, it helps to make the whole process fun. And, if you're lucky enough to have a large enough space, indulge in a little inspirational decoration: when writing Waving Bella, I littered my desk with shells and driftwood from the beach, and kept a postcard of Marc Chagall's Promenade beside my laptop.
2) Make writing dates
Whether you write every day, or can only manage an hour or so a week, make it a date. Treat it like a job, and help your family and/or friends view it the same way too. Then make sure you have a really good excuse if you don't turn up.
When I'm really stuck, I find the best thing I can do is to go for a walk. Preferably on a wild, deserted beach. Failing that, I do some pressing but mindless chore. Whether I consciously focus on what I'm trying to write, or simply let my mind wander, I usually end up with a new perspective. Or at the very least, a new place to start and a very clean toilet.
It's a cliche, but writers really do need to read. It doesn't have to be the same genre as your own work but, take it from a Speech and Language Therapist, words feed words. Even if it feels like time away from your writing, make sure you read a little every day: the benefits will more than compensate. And remember, it doesn't have to be Dickens: these days I mostly read Dr Seuss (but seriously, have you checked out his rhythm and flow, and the sheer creativity of his language?).
5) Just start
I know, I know: how can something so simple be so hard? But I have a little trick that helps: be it a letter, an essay, or your latest chapter, begin with the phrase the sort of thing I want to say is...and then keep on writing. Sometimes, you'll find your stride; sometimes, you won't. But you'll have made a lot of useful notes in the process.