Your Novel Won’t Write Itself
“I don’t have time to write.” We’ve all said that, right? It’s a convenient and useful excuse for why our latest novel, short story or blog post isn’t done yet.
We all have lives, distractions, obligations; things that absolutely must be done.
For me, that’s a day job that keeps me with a roof over my head and food in my stomach. On top of that, I also help manage a nonprofit that can be anywhere from 2 hours a week to 40 hours a week. Plus, an hour or two of religious activities a day, including an hour a week of teaching religion class to 20 wild 4th graders. Throw into that hot mess writing and/or editing 6 or so newsletters a month for various groups, writing and maintaining three blogs, marketing, socializing, admining Facebook Groups, helping friends, designing book covers and other graphics and caring for 2 dogs. So saying I don’t have time to write is very much an understatement.
I do it anyway.
I’m sure many of you have similar stories.
One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve heard is instead of saying “I don’t have time” say “It’s not a priority”. See how much different that sounds? Maybe for you at this very moment, writing isn’t a priority. There are days when other things take precedent over everything else. If you want to be a writer, though, you have to make it a priority, even if it’s only a priority a few minutes a day.
There is a ton of advice out there about how you should get up an hour early or schedule it in somewhere.
Yeah, right. Who’s got an extra hour laying around unused? And I don’t know about any of you, but I certainly can’t afford to short myself an hour of sleep when some nights I don’t get home until midnight and collapse exhausted into bed.
So, how can you fit writing in your schedule when you have one of those crazy full schedules?
Here’s a few tricks I’ve found that work for me.
1. Do mental prep work. Writing involves more than just putting words on paper. It requires a plot, character development, etc. These can be done anywhere - driving, changing diapers, making dinner, etc.
2. Keep a notebook and pen with you. Write by hand. I once read of a mother who finished several novels while she was cooking meals for her large family. She kept the notebook in the kitchen. I keep it in my purse. I usually use it to write down scraps of ideas or things I don’t want to forget when I’m actually writing.
3. Learn to dictate. Cell phones now have apps that do talk to text. There is also Dragon Speak Naturally and other software out there as well. If you think you can’t do it, I know 2 different people who are quadriplegics (Jessica Kennedy and who use dictation software (and an assistant) to become successful in their respective areas.
4. Set a reasonable daily goal. If it’s only a few sentences, it’s only a few sentences. Like pennies, they add up. When I was writing Path of Angels, I would spend five or ten minutes a night working on it before I collapsed exhausted into bed. Some nights it was a sentence or two. Other nights I was up a bit more. It took 6 months or so to finish the rough draft, but it got finished.
5. Editing was a bit harder. I do a scene at a time. My scenes tend to be short so I can get them finished fairly quickly. Paragraph by paragraph or line by line is also an option. Just make sure to keep going. The end will sneak up on you faster than you think.
If your book takes you a year or two or ten, keep plugging away at it. From first word to publication, Path of Angels took me four and a half years. The key is to keep going and don’t give up.
Now, go write.
Dawn Witzke is a freelance writer, graphic artist and master level procrastinator. She can be found over at her blog, Books & Art, where she randomly posts artwork, book reviews and writing. http://author.dawnwitzke.com