One of the most common complaints I always hear from writers is that they can’t 'find the time' to write. They may start their books but then, three months into the process, a pressing project at work is taking up all their time. Or the kids are too demanding. Or (on the other side of the spectrum) I get writers who tell me they are going to quit their jobs to finally write that book. Now go easy on both sides of this extreme. There are better ways to tackle this.
One of the most common complaints I always hear from writers is that they can’t 'find the time' to write. They may start their books but then, three months into the process, a pressing project at work is taking up all their time. Or the kids are too demanding.
Or, on the other side of the spectrum, I get writers who tell me they are going to quit their jobs to finally write that book. Easy on both sides of this extreme.
Writing is a hobby. It is an obsession for some of us, a talent for others, or simply a creative outlet. It is not yet a profession. Not until you have a book deal in the bag.
All the rest of us have to keep it a creative hobby and find the time to write in between the demands of life. This is so tough because the process of writing a book is a long one. Honestly? It will take you a year to get to a good final draft of a novel. Most writers take longer.
So this needs to be a hobby, but an obsessive hobby. Here are some ways to help you get it right:
1. Set a deadline to stop plotting and planning and start writing. This means starting your story at page 1, and not turning back again.
2. Have targets that are outcomes-based not hours-based. Many writers say they will write for an hour a day. I suggest you write a scene a day. So sit down and write that scene and only stand up once its completed. This can take 20 minutes if you type fast and know your character, or two hours if you look at the keys.
3. Teach yourself to touch type. Google it and sign up for a course. It takes a few weeks and it’s an investment that will pay off for the rest of your writing life.
4. Set a realistic deadline to complete your first draft of the book. Then stick to it. A good goal is to have your first draft down in 5- 6 months. If its 24 months and you are still writing, consider that touch typing course.
5. Don't take a breather until you are finished. I don’t recommend dabbling in a book. It doesn’t matter if it’s a children’s book or a Alex Cross murder mystery, you will lose your focus. Write your book as if you are reading a book you cannot put down. If you pick it up once a week you are doomed. Do your plotting and then write obsessively, write compulsively and let the story take you with it.
6. Don't quit your day job. Something has to pay the bills until you get signed for your 3rd book.
Sarah Bullen is a writing coach, agent and book editor. She is a structure fanatic and book whisperer and is here to help.