One of the complaints I often hear from fellow authors or would-be authors is that it’s difficult to find the time to write. Many people attempt a writing career on the side but actually have a full-time job to pay the bills. If they’re parents of small children, finding the time is that much harder. And even for stay-at-home parents or those retired from the typical daily grind, staying on track isn’t easy. Life just always seems to get in the way.
Frankly, I’ve always been a disorganized procrastinator. My dad used to keep a daily planner, and I thought he was anal retentive. Once he told me that if he didn’t have the daily planner, nothing would ever get done. At this stage in my life, I’ve realized what an effective tool a daily planner really is.
I don’t know about you, but if I write down a goal, I’m holding myself accountable to make that goal happen.
This is true even of minor chores written in a daily planner. If I am unable to check off something on that list as done, I feel like a loser and am frustrated with myself.
It’s a mind game we have to play with ourselves.
The trick is to set reasonable goals, something that is actually possible. And do it in baby steps.
Even if you don’t have a daily planner, you can focus your efforts strictly on your writing.
Set goals and put them in writing on a piece of paper where you’ll see it every day, or add a calendar item or even alarm on your phone, whatever works best for you.
Have weekly goals and figure out what the daily goal would have to be in order to get it done.
But give yourself a break. You’re only human and will need to allow for at least one day off.
So how do you plan it?
Let’s say you want to write the first draft of an 80,000-word book in two months. That’s roughly eight weeks. If you write 10,000 words each week you can make it happen. If that’s impossible then take three or four months instead, but make it a reasonable goal, one that’s realistic considering your schedule and all the other things eating away at your time.
Hey, four months is better than never, which is how long it might take without a solid plan in place. Just think, if you wrote 1000 words/day for five days out of the week, that’s 5000 words in a week. In 16 weeks or about four months, you’ve got the first draft of an 80,000-word novel.
Then have a daily checklist in order to hold yourself accountable for getting it done. You can print out a table with your writing goal for each day along with the total for the week. Leave blank spaces where you have to write in how much you actually accomplished, then check it at the end of the week to see if you at least made the minimum.
Remember—if the first draft isn’t up to par, that’s where editing comes in. At least you have a draft to work with, and that dream of writing a book is coming true!
D.M. Miller is the author of the interfaith “Heart” series as well as the poetry collection, Dandelion Fuzz and memoir, Half-Jew: Searching for Identity. The product of an interfaith marriage herself, Miller’s work explores the difficult themes of religion, politics, ethnicity, culture, family, ancestry and love. See her books on Amazon.