Wednesday, October 8, 2014

On Writing: How To Find Time To Write That First Novel

“What do I have to do to be a writer?”


Believe it or not, it’s as simple as that. Writers write. It’s what we do. But you’d be surprised how many people forget that.

I’ve met several potential writers who have bragged about all the work they’ve done on their project. One had a detailed outline of their proposed novel. Another had 3x5 cards filled with biographical notes for each character. A third had a notebook in which he kept hours’ worth of research. When I asked them how far they had gotten in their book, they admitted they had not written anything yet. These people completely miss the point. Research, plot, and character are necessary, but not anywhere near as important as actually writing the book.

So get out there and start writing.

“That’s easy for you to say. You’re published and have plenty of time to write. I don’t.”

No one has time to write. You need to make time.

Most writers I know maintain a day job or have a very understanding significant other with a well-paying job and a lot of patience. Before I retired and was able to write full time, I used to get up at 6 AM and head off to work by 7 AM. If I was lucky, I’d be home around 5 PM. Then I had to feed, clean, and spend time with the pets (you don‘t own pets, pets own you); do chores and errands; and try to have some meager semblance of a social life. Yet, over the course of ten years, I managed to write six novels, a novella, and a dozen short stories. To do that, I made sacrifices. I rarely played video games, and had to force myself to take time for me and read or watch television. I don’t want to admit to the number of times I’d spend several hours cranking out a chapter, only to be greeted afterwards by sets of mopey brown eyes and furry dejected faces giving me that why-didn’t-you-play-with-me look.

Anyone who truly and passionately wants to write will find time to do so. Get up an hour early or stay up an hour late (as long as you devote that entire time solely to writing). If you commute by public transportation, use that time. Devote some of your “down time” to writing. Sure, you might have to forego watching X Factor or curtail your time surfing cute pet videos on YouTube, but are these really more important than getting your book written?


“Oh, come on. How much writing do you really expect me to get done in an hour a day?”

Let me put it this way. In that hour, anyone can write a single page. If you type in double space, that’s approximately 300 words a day. If you do that every day for a year, when you’re done you will have 365 pages totaling over 100,000 words. That, my friends, is a novel.

So what are you waiting for? Close down the Internet, call up your computer, and start writing.

NEXT BLOG: How To Write Well

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