As I mentioned in last week’s post, writing can be very time consuming and pretty difficult to say the least. There can be many reasons why people give up on their writing career, myself almost included, and the biggest cause of it is usually down to timing.
Many aspiring writers just don’t know how to strategize their timing to bring out a novel. But thankfully there is hope. I am going to list 10 key points I implement into my week to make sure I stay on target and most importantly persevere so I don’t give up.
Know What You Need to Write About First
It sounds pretty self-explanatory but believe me, many aspiring writers use the excuse of not having enough time to write purely because they don’t know well in advance what it is they’re trying to write about. If you, the writer, have a clear goal, or more importantly, your protagonist’s goal, you are more likely to enjoy the writing process more so, and therefore inadvertently make time to write. The more you enjoy something, the more likely you’ll find time to do it.
Understand That Writing Can Be Full Time Job
It took me a while to get my head around this point when I started out as an aspiring writer. To be honest I anticipated the ideal of writing one book as a hobby and letting the money flow in. Believe me, it isn’t. Take a full time job for example, you can’t just do one year of work and expect to make a successful career and it’s the same with writing. The quicker you get it into your head that writing is something you have to work hard at to make it successful, the faster you’ll learn how to make time for it.
Examine Your Working Hours
Of course though, nobody is expecting you to do forty hours a week at a full time job, only to come home and do another forty hours a week on your writing (can you imagine how knackered you’d be!) Instead, when you come home – providing you can of course – try and set aside another two hours of ‘work’.
By doing this you’ll bump your weekly working hours to fifty hours, a small price to pay for the chance of becoming an author. In terms of how long some people work, it’s worth looking at those who are at the very top of their careers, some of whom can work up to sixty or seventy hours a week, and most of the time, their hard work pays off. It’s all about mindset.
Targets and Schedules
Another key point I consider when finding time to write my next novel, is to ensue I stick to a monthly and yearly schedule. The easiest way I do this is to look at twelve months from January to December, or the start and completion of your manuscript. True it can take much longer to write a novel, it all depends on the complexity of the story you want to tell and of course the desired length of it. But for arguments sake, let’s say you know how to write a novel and want to write something around 70,000 words / 300 pages. Ideally this sort of length should take around a year on average, at least for me it is. Take this example here as some inspiration:
- January –Compose Story and Plot idea
- February –Complete Chapter Synopsises
- March –Complete Scene List from Chapter Synopsises
- April –Complete First Draft and book a Developmental Edit with Editor for July
- May –Send to Beta Readers and complete Second Draft
- June –Complete Third Draft and incorporate Beta Suggestions
- July –Send manuscript for Edit and Create Book Cover
- August –Complete Fourth Draft and incorporate all Edit Suggestions
- September –Complete Fifth Draft
- October –Have Cover Art made, set up Preorder and have manuscript Line Edited
- November –Create free Goodreads Giveaway and continue to market and promote
- December –Format manuscript and Publish for December
Once you’ve done this, you can start to prioritize each monthly step of writing a novel into weeks and even days. For example, in January, if you know you have to come up with the story and plot idea, you can dedicate 31 days to ensuring that target is met. The more targets you have, the easier it will be to find time to make sure you hit the target and stay on schedule.
Make Sure Your Life is Sorted First
This is another biggie in my books because at the end of the day, just like me, you are all humans who all have their individual needs and affairs. Another good way to find time to write the novel of your dreams is to make sure nothing ells is getting in the way of that. These other things can be trivial or serious but genuinely to be able to sit down and find time to produce a product will be determined by what distractions are around you. Best thing to do in this scenario is to make a list of daily, weekly and monthly to do’s.
It sounds a little patronizing I know, here’s me telling you to make sure the dishes are done, the lunches are made, the living room is vacuumed etcetera. But until those things are out of the way, they will forever play on your mind and your head will not be in the right frame to produce anything, and instead you’ll procrastinate, which we all know is a time KILLER. Get all the boring stuff off your chest first, then sit down and create that masterpiece.
Do it When Travelling
Again a little self-explanatory I know but if you’re in a place where commuting to work or university leaves you sat on a train or bus with nothing to do but listen to your music and play a game on your smart-phone, then this will be a great opportunity to use that time to be productive. Make sure you have all the equipment with you that you’ll need: a pen and notepad for a start or maybe a tablet or laptop, anything that will help you jot something down.
But if you’re unable to get in the right headspace for something like this, then a second solution will be to read a book. A newspaper or magazine is fine if that’s the sort of avenue you want to go down as a writer but if you’re aspiring to be a young adult fantasy author for example, then you really should be reading what’s in your desired field. The better acquainted you are with your aspiring field, the easier it will be for you to make time.
Create an Appropriate Writing Space
A writing space is a place where you can easily let your mind remain focused on the task at hand whilst also free to explore writing ideas for your projects. If the only time you have is during the day when everyone is rushing about around you and making noise and garnering your attention for your opinion on the latest episode of Game of Thrones, then you’re very likely going to miss out on vital writing time.
The best thing to do in this scenario is to create an area where you can slink away and put all your time and attention into the task at hand. If your schedule calls for it, it may even be a good idea to write in the evening. I know I do my best writing in the evening when everyone’s asleep and there are no cars rushing past my house. Blissful!
Have More Faith in Yourself
So what on earth do I mean by this cryptic point. Quite honestly, you’re probably not as bogged down as you think you might be. You may be at work thinking: I’ll never have time for writing a novel when I get home, I’ve got far too much to do and I won’t have the energy to do it. The truth is, most successful writers tend to be just as busy as you and me, the difference with them is they’ve created a product and are benefiting from it, why?
Because they knew they could and they believed in themselves. Yes it’s hard being a writer and it can take up much of your time but unless you were born into the profession or miraculously began your desired writing career from a young age, then you’re going to have to work hard at it and another great way of doing that is by believing in yourself and telling yourself everyday, no matter how hard life is: I will write my dream novel and I will be proud when I do it.
Understand It Won’t be Perfect the First Time
Another set back many writers, myself included when I first started out, was I wanted to be perfect on my first go. I expected the first draft of my manuscript to read as it does now, after months of rewriting and editing. But for those in this boat of perfectionists, it can be a real sinker.
Many times I’ve seen friends ponder on the perfect opening line, the most well developed protagonist to hold up the story, or a writing style that could rival Charles Dickens. Believe me, it ain’t gonna happen. Embrace the fact you’re first draft will be a little funky; mine most certainly was. Turn off your spell checker and stop caring that characters may sound like parodies, it’ll all get fixed later on.
Stop World Building!
I say this with an exclamation mark. For me this was one of the most controversial points I as a writer ever had to overcome, especially since my debut novel Everscape is a world-heavy science fiction fantasy novel. I went into so much world building, I went as far as to include the type of soil people used in their gardens, and no it’s not relevant to the story or plot.
World building can be a really exciting part of the novel writing process. I actually love world building as it opens up so much space for creativity and uniqueness but it can be a huge drain on how much time you have to actually write what matters: the things that happen in the plot. When I first wrote Everscape I had a fabulous colorful world where nothing happened and subsequently the novel was terribly boring. The issue with world building is you can fit it into a schedule easily. You can be looking at a plate of food and instantly realize your world needed more sushi. At the end of the day, world building is procrastination, and again, procrastination is a time killer.
Hopefully you’ve gathered a few helpful tips from these ten points. At first I wanted to shower you with ideas such as: write in your lunch break, or more severely, hire a ghostwriter. But at the end of the day, writing a novel is all about preparation and planning. The more you do of that, the easier writing is, and the easier writing is, the more enjoyable it becomes, and the more enjoyable it becomes, the more time you subconsciously make for it.
Happy writing, friends! x