How easy would it be if we all had magic wands? If only we could simply wave that bad boy and have everything that we wanted done, done. My head is always overflowing with things needing to be tackled, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough time.
Does this sound familiar?
If you are a writer or want to be a writer or have thought about being a writer . . . maybe, possibly, if only . . .
I encourage you to start today, ESPECIALLY, if the writing is nagging at you, begging for you to get started.
Do you know what writing novels is for me? It’s like a really engrossing book that I can’t wait to get back to reading, only the book I’m reading is the one that I’m writing. Writing a novel is an escape for me; it’s where my characters and the scenes that play out are always surprising me. Writing brings me joy and so, despite my busy schedule, I find time to do it.
Sure, there are many times when I feel like a pregnant woman pushing out my words. That’s the best way to describe it — I’m PUSHING the words out . . . until I begin to ZONE IN, returning my concentration to that fictional world . . . and then the words begin to flow. Break-through.
Writing a novel while working full-time is possible. I’ve done it. I did it three times and I’m doing it now for the fourth time. As someone working full time with a hefty commute, freelancing, and while raising two boys, I want to stress how POSSIBLE writing a novel while working full-time can be IF you want it bad enough.
And that is the caveat — the desire has to be there. That desire is what will fuel you on those days when getting in front of a computer is a struggle. You must keep your focus on the endgame. See your novel finished and published. Actually see yourself, typing out those last words, editing it through, and having an ending that makes you want to tear up with pride, admiration, and happiness. Picture that image and hold onto it.
Pushing the words out and seeing the end result are the two biggest MENTAL TIPS that help me persevere when the task of writing a novel seems daunting. The following tactical steps have also made writing a novel with a full-time job possible:
(1) Wrap your arms around a schedule and get into a rhythm.
You may feel as if life is throwing you curve ball after curve ball and that juggling all your To-Dos is impossible. Take that first step and make a master list of goals and actions steps needed. Log all your appointments, look for the constants – your regular activities – and then designate times to write. Make writing an appointment.
(2) Maximize little pockets of time.
You will be surprised at how much writing can transpire during small blocks of time. These blocks can occur while waiting for your children at sports practice or while waiting for a doctor’s appointment. Keep a journal or your laptop with you at all times for when your time frees up, even if briefly. Always be writing. You may end up with only a few sentences, but the writing will add up. Plus, this dedicated practice breeds consistency and continuity.
(3) Find your most productive time of day and make it a habit to write then.
I am not a morning person, but I find that the morning is when my best writing occurs. This is when I am fresh. It’s as if I have used the night to hash out ideas, evoking my theta and delta waves of sleep to generate my morning words. For me, this is when my writing is most automatic and spontaneous. Find what works best for you and carve out a regular time to write daily.
(4) Do not worry about perfection.
Not yet at least. When you first set out to write your novel, write your novel. Do not worry about editing or making it sound perfect. Spending time editing often impedes the writing flow. There is plenty of time for editing later. My trick for ignoring my overwhelming desire to correct, perfect, and polish is to use the computer highlighter, marking sections that I want to re-work. Sometimes, I do spend time polishing sections at the first go-around, but if I feel that it is affecting the flow, I simply highlight that section and move on.
(5) Do not allow writing myths to hold you back.
Everyone has their own writing style and practice. Find what works for you and disregard advice that may hinder your writing. One writing myth is the need to write in chronological order. Not true. If inspiration evokes writing but it doesn’t seem relevant or sequential, do not worry about it. Just write it out. I’ve written ending chapters in my books before my storyline had gotten to that point. There were times when I was inspired by a potential scene and so I wrote it out, not knowing if it was usable. In most cases, these scenes were usable and moved me forward in my writing. The later scene became a dot in my plotline, allowing me to connect the dots of present and future plotlines.
(6) Re-start when life forces a pause.
Life is unpredictable and, despite your best efforts, there will be times when writing is not possible. It would be wrong for me to sugarcoat the realities of writing a novel while working. It’s tough and requires discipline. But, when you are forced to stop, remind yourself that this pause is simply that–a temporary lull. Get back to your writing as soon as you can. Replay and focus on the image of your end result.
(7) Set a Daily Word Count.
Writing consistently is critical. It is the only way that progress will be made. Break down your writing into word counts. Set a reasonable daily goal and do what you can to achieve that goal. There may be times when you fall below this word count. Please do not beat yourself up when this happens. The important thing is to write every day.
(8) Make Sacrifices.
I hate to say it, but some things have to be eliminated in order to fit in the writing. Social media and watching television can be time saboteurs that can easily pull you into nonproductivity. Sometimes, you simply need to ignore your FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and choose writing your novel instead. If anything, use TV watching or time on social media as a reward for your writing efforts.
(9) Stay Healthy.
Something that should never be eliminated during your writing process is maintaining healthy habits. Working out and eating healthy are often the first things to be ignored when pushing toward your goals. I am guilty. I spent the last several months neglecting my health. Working out had been a priority for me the last several years but then I just stopped. I couldn’t seem to squeeze it in. It is still a struggle with my current workload, but I am back at it. I took some time to examine my schedule and strategize a way to re-incorporate healthy habits into my life. Here’s a little secret too: working out actually HELPS your writing. It improves your emotional and mental state and brings about a clarity that truly lifts the writing fog.
I can’t wait to read your writing. Please be sure to keep me posted on your progress. Writing is truly an adventure and a process that will teach you valuable lessons along the way. Remember that Rome was not built in a day. Simply, take it day by day and persevere!