Happy Saturday, everyone! Today's post should be my Winter Quarterly Goals Review, and my new goals for the spring quarter. However, I had to move around a few things, so my Quarterly Goals post will be on Wednesday. Instead, today’s topic is a companion post to 5 Ways to Improve Your Writing. In that first post, I shared how to improve your writing skill. Now, I’ll be talking about how to make time for it. With our crazy hectic lives, finding time to write is impossible. That’s why we have to MAKE time for it. With so many different things fighting for our attention, writing... and writing regularly, is a challenge. How do we accomplish it? Here's how...
1. GET UP EARLY
For night owls, this can be hard. 100%, I would say that I am a night owl. Over the last year or two, though, my job has forced me to become a morning bird. I get up at 6 a.m., and even on days I don’t work, my sleep pattern has become ingrained. I still get up before 7, even without an alarm. The key, however, is not getting up. It’s staying up. Here’s where I often fail. I wake up, take out the dog, etc. and then come in and go back to sleep. On the days when I score a writer win, I actually stay up and write for an hour or two. Yay! But this doesn’t always happen.
Even if you can’t write immediately when you get up, getting up earlier can help you get a jump-start on your daily stuff, therefore giving you more time in the evening to write!
2. WRITE FIRST THING IN THE A.M.
Even if you aren’t a morning person, getting up early to write will pay off, I guarantee. It’s quiet and peaceful, and no one is up yet to bother you. If you write before you start all your other commitments, it’s easier to focus on actually writing. If you wait until later in the day, 99% of the time, something else comes up and eats into or completely devours your writing time. It’s very easy for, “Oh, I’ll just do a few chores real quick… It’ll take five minutes”, to turn into an hour-long ordeal. And then it’s time to get ready for work, wake up the kids, start your day… By prioritizing writing as the first thing in the morning, you get it out of the way before the flood of responsibilities pours in. Your life is crazy, but it’s okay, because even if you don’t get to write at all throughout the afternoon or evening, you already spent that first hour (or however long you can squeeze in) writing.
3. GET OFF FACEBOOK (and other social media)
If you could see my face right now, I’m laughing. Facebook is a weakness for me sometimes, because I love connecting with new writer/bloggers/readers. You guys are awesome! The problem is, it’s so easy to lose track of time when you start clicking away. Oh, I’ll just check my notifications real quick! It’ll only take a second, right? Wrong!! Then you see that super cute video of a dancing penguin and have to watch it. And your writer friend posted an awesome writing quote, so you just HAVE to comment. All that stuff is great, but it’s easy to turn writing time into social media time. And that doesn’t just go for Facebook. Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and all the other ways we connect today… those are just as addicting. Reading posts, liking quotes, and finding inspiring stuff to boost your motivation to write is awesome, but it does no good if you never actually write! Shut down the social apps and blogs… turn on airplane mode if you have to. Create a media blackout and write!
4. CRUSH WRITER’S BLOCK BY DEFYING IT (write… even if it stinks)
You know what’s so powerful about writer’s block? Writers allow this little villain to stop them from writing. The concept behind writer’s block is that either (1) you have no ideas, or (2) you have no motivation. Defying both of these things actually solves them. If you have no idea how to proceed with your story, just write and let the story flow on its own. Often, my best scenes have come about from this method. In the beginning, the words will probably feel stilted and meaningless. The point is not to write incredible, beautiful sentences off the bat. The point is to kind of wade through the “slump” and get to the good stuff. As Louis L’Amour said, “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
Let me tell you a little story. When my family first moved into our house, the water hadn’t been run in a little while (the house had been sitting on the market). We live in the mountains, and we have an underground well from which the water runs. The first time we turned on the faucets to the shower, the water smelled horrible. It was awful! We had to keep running the sour water for a few weeks until it finally weakened, and then went away permanently. If we had just stopped using the water, would the smell have just disappeared after a while? No! Why? Because we had to get the bad-smelling water out to reach the normal water. It’s kind of the same thing with writing. If you reach a sour part in your novel, waiting around for an idea to come after writer’s block is pointless. You have to write through the bad to reach the good.
5. SET A WRITING SCHEDULE & CREATE HABITS
Dedicating a specific time to writing each day can help you stick to it and achieve your goal. Treat that block of time like you would any other appointment. Lots of authors have talked about that time for them… J.K. Rowling talks about “protecting” that time. Others have said to write it on a calendar like you would a doctor’s visit or work meeting. Sometimes writing falls by the wayside when we have so many other things on our minds and in our schedules. And honestly, writing doesn’t come first. Our families do. Our jobs do. But if we never give writing any time or attention, it’s so easy to just let it go altogether. And writers can never improve, progress, & ultimately FINISH if they never write.
6. SET A WORD COUNT GOAL EACH DAY
Speaking of goals and schedules, setting a word count goal is a great way to make progress in your WIP. A good place to start is 1,000 words a day, but you can do more or less, depending on your time and writing speed. 1,000 words is about 4 Microsoft Word pages, and the equivalent of around four book pages, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but let’s do the math. If you write 1,000 words a day, and your goal is 80,000 words, it will take you 80 days to write the first draft. That’s only 3 months! Imagine if you could write a first draft every three months! Okay, now let’s come back down to earth and realistic expectations. I probably couldn’t write an entire first draft in three months. Maybe if I really, really dedicated myself. But with school, work, families, and all these other things we juggle? No. Nevertheless, I hope you see my point. A small amount each day adds up. And like I’ve said before… it isn’t about how fast you write. The point is simply to move forward. Every word you write takes you one step closer to THE END.
Like today’s post? Let’s chat! Leave a comment below and tell me what you struggle with in finding time for writing. What have you discovered works for you?
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