The number one reason I’m given for not writing is, “I don’t have time.” It’s an easy trap to fall into. That being said, I know it’s possible to get some writing in no matter how busy you are. So how do you accomplish that? Sometimes you can manage an hour or two, but it’s not the right time and nothing gets done or your mind is racing. Instead of describing the valley your army rides through, you accidentally type out your office meeting schedule.
Today I really want to go over some strategies to make that precious, short, bit of writing time more efficient. Of course, as always, these are suggestions you don’t have to take to heart, but maybe you can think about it and find some habits of your own.
We all know what efficiency is. It’s making the most use of your time. If you can only sit down and write once a week for an hour, you need to make that the most productive hour of your week.
Schedule Your Writing Time
Writing everyday is optimal. Both for progress and for improvement. It’s not a realistic goal for a lot of people due to day jobs, family, and obligations. If you schedule your writing time, as in physically write it down on your calendar or in your phone, you’re more likely to commit that time to writing. Sit down and take a look at your calendar and at your family schedule. Find where you most often have some down time, but remember don’t force writing into all of your down time because you need to relax and vegetate just like everyone else. Pick out a time slot and keep in mind what events might occur. Ask yourself, is that when we usually have dinner? Does my favorite tv show come on at that time? Is there some other, unwritten, reason I don’t have anything scheduled for that slot? Be realistic too. I would suggest to start small, in half hour or hour increments and go from there. If the time doesn’t work, pick out another one until you find that golden hour of peace and creativity.
Research is necessary for most writing. Fiction or not. The internet is a wonderful, evil, double-edged sword place. Do your research before you start. Research can be done one question at a time in tiny 5 minute increments throughout your day or week. Of course, if you’re writing a nonfiction title or your book is more involved than that, perhaps sacrifice some of your scheduled writing time for research. The point is, try to be offline when you’re writing. No internet. No Facebook, no blogs ;), and no instant messaging. Including your phone. Leave your phone out of the room or turn it onto airplane mode. You have scheduled this time for you and your writing only. If the time is scheduled then the world can hold on for that one hour. If you’re afraid of someone getting a hold of you in the case of an emergency, leave your phone on, but have it across the room and out of arm’s reach.
Do Not Disturb
Being offline and do not disturb go hand in hand. Tell your family this is your writing time. Lock yourself up in a room and put up a sign. Writing in progress! Or world building in progress! Construction Zone! Make it quirky, funny, serious, whatever you like but get across the point, Do Not Disturb. Talk to your spouse or partner about how important it is for you not to be disturbed
Away From Home
If you have problems accomplishing the above, for whatever reason, try writing away from home where distractions or family can’t disturb you. The library is quite honestly my favorite place because it’s so quiet and as a bonus if you need to do research you can always do it the old fashioned way. Of course the library’s hours are indeed limited and you may work through the window in which their doors are open. If you live in a town with a university or college, their libraries stay open considerably later, especially during test time. There are 24 hour diners. I love diners because you can snack and have drinks while you work without the clean up. If you have a laptop or tablet you feel comfortable writing on you can go to the park if the weather allows. Or sit in the car while it rains. Peace and quiet is the goal. Do you have another friend or two who are also writers? Schedule a writing party each week with them. An agreed upon time and place where you can all sit together and get stuff done. Just be careful to stay disciplined. My friends and I will have writing races where we time ourselves for one hour. There’s nothing to win but bragging rights, but it’s still fun and very effective. You’ll be impressed how high your word count gets when it’s a competition. Friendly of course.
Being organized is the key to efficiency in so many aspects of life. Why not apply it to writing? Yes, I know, again I’ll say outlines are amazing, but organization is more than having an outline ready. Have all of your notes, research, and character sheets ready to go. Get pens, paper, anything you need for note taking and editing. Need some water? Have a glass at the ready. If you have an hour scheduled try not to let your butt leave that seat in the allotted time. Go to the bathroom before you start. Try to eliminate any excuses to pause your writing before you even get started. Make a checklist.
Word Count Goal
A realistic word count goal will make the most of your writing time. “But, it’s only an hour!”, you say. I’ve written over 2000 words in an hour. I discovered this by doing the writing races with my friends. It seems like a lot, and I type fast to be fair, but this was also due to my absolute concentration and competitive nature. My point is, you can set a decent word count goal to reach within an hour’s time. Start small and see how fast you go. Days will vary, of course. And by all means, if you meet your word count goal in the first half hour of your hour writing time, keep going! If you’re on fire you’re on fire!
Clear Your Mind
Five minutes or so before you start, sit down and take a look through any notes you have. Think about nothing but your book. Do some meditation of sorts and clear your mind. Do some breathing exercises. Especially if something else is nagging for your attention. Just breathe. Plot. Think of your characters doing everyday tasks. How do they go shopping? Do they celebrate the holidays? Before you put the words onto the page, allow yourself to live in your world for a few minutes until ours is an afterthought. Begin.
Until Next Time
I’m sure most of you have seen these tips and variations of them all over the web. However, I offer them up on the chance that it’s new and exciting. If I can help one person finish their novel faster I’m satisfied. Life happens. And that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with missing out on your writing time to go to your daughter’s soccer game. Nothing wrong with dismissing Write Night for Date Night. However, you need to find the time. Don’t let it become habit. If you don’t respect your own writing hour, how can you expect anyone else to? If you can find the time to binge Netflix for eight hours on the weekend, pretty sure you can spend some of that writing. As always Dragon Bloode: Covet is out in ebook everywhere ebooks are sold.