If you’re going to stay on a self-imposed writing schedule, you need to plan regular times to write. Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t write at other times; on the contrary, it’s important that you write as often as you feel inspired to do so. But in order to stay on track, planning time to set aside for writing is a useful practice.
When I wrote Escape through the Wilderness, I blocked off times on my calendar to go to Starbucks specifically to work on the book. Sometimes it was only an hour. Other times, when I had more discretionary free time, I’d sit at my computer for up to four or five hours. Whenever you sense you are inspired to write and your thoughts are flowing freely, do your best to write for as long as you can. Occasionally, I’d have a slow day and after an hour only have a few paragraphs to show for my efforts. But it happens. It’s all part of the ebb and flow of writing.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “How do you eat an elephant? The answer is well known, “One bite at a time.” The same holds true for your book. How do you write a 60,000-word novel? You guessed it, one word at a time.
I remember the joy and excitement of finishing my first chapter… and then facing the harsh realization that there were approximately thirty-two chapters more for me to write!
Writing a book is a bit like running a marathon. It certainly isn’t a sprint. As in training for a long distance race, you must safeguard some times to write, and allow the other times you write to be a bonus. Having said that, while I was writing my book I went through a period where for about three weeks I could hardly write anything. I felt zero inspiration and lacked the motivation to write. Even the times I had scheduled were unproductive. I attribute this to writer’s block or burnout. We’ll talk about writer’s block and tips to overcome it the next time.
Let me conclude by saying that when I go to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned, before I leave they always give me another teeth cleaning appointment card. Why? So I don’t forget. That’s the same reason you may want to consider scheduling regular writing times. For now, consider how you might answer the following questions:
1. How many days a week do you envision writing?
2. How many minutes or hours per day or week do you think would be reasonable to complete the book, given your timeline?
Next time we’ll address the issue of “writer’s block” and I’ll suggest some ways you can overcome it.