I often get asked how on earth I can find the time and the motivation to write novels. When you have a full-time job not related to anything creative, it is a huge challenge to commit yourself to write a book of more than 100,000 words.
That is besides the time you might need to research spaceships, or deep sea diving vessels. Or the time you need to spend to flesh out your characters into believable portrayers of your story, and then there is the plot and subplots that also require your attention.
Yet writers manage a 9 to 5, family and social obligations, keeping an active gym membership and then somehow get some sleep crammed into that 24 hour period too. Are they superheroes with specialised skills to manipulate the flow of time?
I am going to let you in on a little secret – and you have to promise not to share it because it might just enable more people to fulfil their dream of writing a novel. Ready?
There is no secret. Writers do not have supernatural abilities (that is why we write stories so that we can live vicariously through our characters). Writers, however, do some things to make them stand out from the aspiring writers and dreamers: they write.
You might roll your eyes, but have you ever considered what those two little words mean in the humdrum and chaos of life? They write. Those two words have bags full of meaning on the implications.
My Top 10 Tips For Large Writing Projects
- Writers commit themselves to write every day.
- Writers set themselves a daily goal for their writing. Whether it is to write for two hours or write until 1000 words, have been added, or both, the daily goal is essential.
- Writers don’t wait for a muse to magically appear with that elusive, foggy, insubstantial thing called inspiration. Because they write, and read, the ideas will come in abundance. Sometimes so often and in such numbers that it is hard to keep up.
- Writers keep a notebook on hand for when those ideas strike. Being prepared for those ideas is half the battle. The ideas come at any time, any place and usually when it is the most inconvenient for you. However, the writer makes a quick note, pen and paper or a smartphone app, to explore later when the time and place is more convenient.
- Writers ask for help. We don’t know everything and even writers who have been honing their skills for a long time can learn something new or different to keep their pencils sharp.
- Writers offer support. The one thing that the indie author community has taught me is that authors want to see other authors succeed too. Many communities were formed on social media sites with the express intention of supporting each other with advice, a kick in the pants, or just a sounding board when needed. Indies rock!
- Writers don’t get blocked. I am probably going to get my teeth rearranged for this statement, but being blocked has nothing to do with writing. If you can talk, you can write. Feeling blocked can usually be attributed to other factors such as worry, stress, exhaustion, or other adverse events or situations. Keep a journal to let those feelings out. It is a myth that all writing needs to be published in some form. Being a writer does not mean perfection, it means that you write.
- Writers read – a lot. Books are our comfort, our teachers, our companions, our role models. Read a lot and read widely. Read outside your preferred genre and read outside your comfort zone. Our minds are starving for input to generate more ideas. Don’t starve your mind, feed it. Feed it a lot. The best thing about this feeding practice? You can’t gain weight from it.
- Writers recharge their batteries. We all get tired because writing is an exhausting thing sometimes. Remember not to neglect your physical well-being, your spiritual well-being and your hobbies. We are more than the sum of our individual parts and all parts need to be in good functioning order for the creative energies to flow. Look after yourself.
- Writers chose their sacrifices well. Time is a scarce commodity. Choose how you spend it. Make time for family and friends and sacrifice the activities that do not help your writing, or the time with your loved ones. I don’t watch TV with the exception of the soccer World Cup every four years, and on Friday afternoons when I get home. When all my chores are done for the evening, I sit in front of my computer and write.
The short, short version?
- Writers are committed to their daily goal.
- Writers are disciplined and show up for their daily writing session.
- Writers do not make excuses.
by Linzé Brandon. Linzé is the pen name of a system engineer and project manager who likes to confuse her creative muse as a writer, blogger, and artist. She is the author of a non-fiction book, and several novels and short stories. She is currently working on her first literary novel and her second non-fiction book.