So it’s November, and Nanowrimo is in full swing. All those wonderfully committed writers are plucking out staggering high daily word counts, and impressing us all with their tenacity. And I have to say even though I write about six days a week, and tend to always have my next project waiting for me, I feel a bit ashamed. I should be writing more. My daily counts could definitely go higher. But to imagine those poor waylaid folks who can’t even sit down and put a single word to paper, despite dreaming of being an author. My heart really goes out for them.
And that’s what led me to start this new three part series. I wanted to illustrate, how I manage to do ‘This writing thing’. And maybe, I can help a few more people finally release their beautiful imaginations into the jumble of prose writing. And if not, hey at least I’m writing? And just a friendly reminder like all these Pro-tip, advice columns, this is completely from my point of view. So viewer discretion is advised.
So ‘Making this Writer Thing Work’ is the most obvious place to begin. What do I mean by that? I mean figuring out how your schedule can accommodate writing, and making it a habit. We have figure out how to put in the time.
Now if you’re full of reasons you can’t. Then you should turn around right now. One of the reasons it took me so long to making writing a habit was the very same deal. I was in university. I was in a band. I had freelance jobs taking up my entire 24 hour period allotted to me on this planet. I can respect that, but if you look at your time and your responsibilities and you can’t imagine carving out any time in your daily routine, and are quite happy with it all, then you shouldn’t write. You need to make it some sort of priority. As much fun as writing is, it does take at least a little sacrifice. Chronologically that is.
This brings us to the first question you should ask yourself. “When can I write” Perhaps after you get off work, or maybe after you send the kids to school. Maybe you have some down time before bed. Think of that weak part of your daily routine. Maybe your watching TV for an hour. Maybe you are sitting in front of your computer of Facebook. Perhaps you got a gamepad in your hand and your sniping Nazis from the rusty window sil of an abandoned factory. Whatever the case may be, there’s probably some little bit of time, that could be repurposed into a little bit of writing time. Even if its just 30 minutes, that’s a start and your’ll be able to at least put a few sentences in place. And that’s what were here for.
Finding that weak bit of time is really the easiest part. Putting your target on that and making it your own despite everything around you is what can sometimes be difficult. Unless you live alone, you will probably need to be a jerk at some point. Even if you do live by yourself you will probably need to put your foot down on this time. But all in all you need to stake your claim on a writing time. This means explaining you will be writing, and it would be nice if you could have this time for your own. If someone interrupts you, you should be sure to remind them what they are interrupted. After a few times they should begin to remember.
I measure my writing by time. I’ve gotten into the habit of setting a timer. If I get up to stretch my legs, the phone rings (in which I remind the person calling I’m writing) or anything else happens I stop my timer and then when I sit back down I bring it back on. Most cell phones have a timer feature. Its really a great way to know your time and to keep it.
Often people compare writing to physical exercise. People always talk about flexing your writing muscles and all that. Well building a habit as a writer is similar to building an exercise routine. The first few weeks are going to be hard to get to that place. Its going to be tough to close those facebook windows, and put down that controller. Its going to be hard to get off the couch and sit with your personal agreement. But after you do it for a few weeks, keeping t o your plan, it becomes second nature. Its built into your daily mind set. Just like exercising does. For me it feels weird if I don’t write a day. Its like something is missing—like I forgot to do something I was supposed to. So by keeping a schedule you can build this response for yourself.
One way I’ve found to build these types of habits is by rewarding myself. I know it probably sounds a little strange, but it tends to work. If you know you can’t have that nightly beer, or that time on Halo until you finish your promised writing time, you’ll look forward to it, and it will help you continue to push yourself until its cemented into your organic calendar.
Of course setting yourself up for writing is the very first step to getting to write. If you can make some sort of daily routine happen your well on your way to becoming not only a writer, but who knows maybe a novelist!