Do you want to make this the year when you finally write your book? Then it’s really quite simple. If you want to write a book, you have to do one thing only. Sit and Write. Basic as the concept I, struggled with this for quite some time, usually hiding behind some excuse or another about how I couldn’t write due to a busy day job that drained me mentally and emotionally so I didn’t have time to write. My weekends were always well-intentioned but yet again I couldn’t; find the time to write because I was recovering from the work week so needed some well deserved rest.
But then I finally decided to stop giving myself excuses and I challenged myself to participate in NaNoWriMo; to write a 50,000 word book in 30 days. I knew it would be virtually impossible for me but I purposefully went straight in and decided to compete against the toughest competitor I knew; someone who I knew could potentially make or break me….and that was ME.
I competed with myself. I challenged myself to commit to writing everyday and at the end of the 30 days I had produced 20,000 words. Yes I fell short of the 50k word limit but that’s ok. 20k words are better than zero words. But what changed for me fundamentally was that i stopped hiding behind my excuses and I started to write. Yes I had created an (almost) daily writing habit and the more I wrote the easier it stated to get. So what helped me to write every day? Here are my tips below:
1) Commit to writing everyday
It really doesn’t matter how many words you write. Just show up and write. Start with a gentle 200 words and then work your way up to 500 words. I gave myself a target of 500 words to start with and was regularly hitting 3 times that amount. It’s amazing what we are capable of when we have a goal; we humans almost seem programmed to surpass it.
2) Do your research before you write
Do your research or outline your chapter or scene before you start to write. If you know what you will write about then this helps you to write faster. I usually spent the first 5 minutes of my writing session outlining and thinking about what I would write and I noticed that if I skipped this step I would usually produce fewer words. Coming to the blank paper / screen with an outline already in place means you are rearing to go to fill out the blanks in the mental structure you have already created.
3) Face the fear by turning up everyday
I know a lot of writers say you should write daily and I am a big proponent of this too. Reason being you start to cultivate a habit of writing daily. You may not always be producing words for that novel; you may write in your journal or write words for your blog article. It really doesn’t matter as long as you are writing daily. The practice of sitting to write daily will foster a good habit and help you to beat any fear or resistance you have towards writing. I know that every time i don’t write, it’s because I fear my words may not be good enough. But by turning up to my desk everyday and still writing helps to send a message to my inner fear monster and silences it albeit temporarily. I don’t; care how good my words are, all that matters is I turn up everyday rather than sit back in silence and let the resistance win.
4) Snatch odd moments
I used to have this romantic notion of only being able to write my novel when I was sitting by a nice fireside, with a nice cup of tea, at a remote writers retreat in a perfect little setting where I had five full free days to write my novel. These perfect conditions never materialised as a little thing called ‘life’ kept getting in the way. So I decided to write for 30 mins every weekday (during my lunch break) and write. And you will be amazed at what you can produce. I wrote my 20k novel in 30 minute lunch break sessions!
This has been a game changer for me. Having to much of something can actually be a bad thing and this is also true for writing. If you have all day to write i can guarantee you that you will probably only write for a hour during that day because you know subconsciously you have all day so other things and tasks get in the way and start to take priority.
By timing your writing sessions you dedicate deliberate time to writing. No checking email or twitter. Just pure writing. Your mind can enter a flow state better when it is performing one activity at a time despite common misconceptions that we can multi task. When it comes to writing, block out dedicated time to write. In that way you can also get it over and done with. I now block out 1 hour a day where I know if I focus I can produce 2,000 words if I have outlined and researched beforehand.
5) Don’t worry about your first draft
Guess what your first draft is ALLOWED to be rubbish! So just get the words out. First drafts should also be written as fast as you can because you will have time to go back and review and edit and make necessary changes. I started writing my latest non-fiction book 10 days ago and by using the techniques above have now written 17k words in less than 10 days. This is the most productive I have been and its mainly due to the fact that I am writing under timed writing sessions and am writing through the fear. I know my first draft will be poor but that’s good! This will give me an opportunity to keep improving and more importantly, ship my product because that is what Author entrepreneurs do! We make our product (books) and ship it to the world.
So what are you going to commit to in order to make your product and ship it this year? Share your comments below!