I bet you’ve heard this advice before. “Write every day.”
You might think, ugh, that’s easier said than done. You don’t know how hectic my life is!
Two excuses (and yes, I admit I’ve made them myself in the past) we hear over and over from the novice and the unmotivated alike are, “I have no time to write,” or “I don’t know how to write.”
Here’s the hard truth, you can make time to write if you really wanted to. We all have twenty-four hours a day, so it all comes down to how you budget that time. The same way you earmark a portion of your paycheck for your mortgage, you need to budget time for writing. Set aside a block of time, whether it’s twenty minutes or an hour, and mark it in your calendar just as you would schedule an important meeting or a dentist appointment.
Let’s face it, most of us wouldn’t go to work if we didn’t have to. Yet five days a week (or more) you wake up and get yourself to work (hopefully) on time. Why? Because you want to put in enough hours to earn a decent paycheck. In other words, you make it a priority.
It’s time to make your writing a priority.
This is done through motivation. You’re motivated to go to work because you earn a paycheck. Why are you motivated to write? Is there a story in your head that is dying to get out? Let’s dig a little deeper. Ask yourself, what would it mean for you to hold your completed book in your hand? And perhaps the most important question, what are you willing to do to reach that pinnacle?
There are three ways to reach that goal. Scheduling, scheduling, and scheduling. And, of course, writing. If you commute to work, use that time to write. Take fifteen minutes from your lunch break and write. Use your phone or an old-fashioned pen and paper. Even if it’s just notes, key words, or an idea for a scene—write it down.
While entertaining as it is watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy every evening, it doesn’t add to your word count. You might say at least these show are somewhat educational, but so is creating characters, outlining/plotting, and writing your story.
Let’s say you give up an hour (or two) of watching TV and use that time for writing instead. Do this for one month. If you hit five hundred words in that hour and multiply that by thirty days, that’s fifteen thousand words. That’s a good-sized short story or a small novella. Now, let’s push that to two months. Thirty thousand words is a 120-page book, a great size for a short memoir or business book.
Now let’s address, “I don’t know how to write.” Maybe this would be better phased if you said, "My writing is not where I want it to be." That is understandable, but the only way you are going to get your writing to the level you want is to write. What do you write about? That’s easy, you have a whole universe filled with things to write about.
What are your interests? What are you passionate about? What’s your background, education, and life experience? While you might think some of these things are hum-drum, others will find them intriguing. Play the “what if?” game. Take a normal situation, like riding the bus; add a huge twist by asking “what if?” this or that were to happen.
This could work for mammoth events as well, for example, what would have happened if the South won the Civil War? What if mission control couldn’t bring the crew of Apollo 11 back to earth? What if the Pilgrims landed in Florida instead of Massachusetts? The possibilities are endless.
If something really grabs you, do an internet search and begin to collect information. No longer do we need to travel to the library, send out snail-mail requests, and make a dozen phone calls for information. It can all be done in the comfort of your home. You still may need to visit certain institutions and request copies of documents, but a good percentage of your research is done with the assistance of Google.
Once you have enough information, organize the ideas, break it all down into bullet points, expend and question each sub topic, then add your opinion or synopsis.
It all boils down to knowing what you want to write about and scheduling the time to do so. No excuses—just write, damn it!
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