And yours, too!
Is it really all about commitment to the craft of writing or is there another way?
There’s this image of the writer slaving away at the computer for endless hours trying to string perfect sentences together, oblivious to the world, tortured by their inability to write.
That trope is half right. We’re often frustrated by our inability to write because we can’t find fifteen minutes to ourselves, let alone half a day wallowing over a page. Of course, finding the time is true of almost any New Year’s Resolution. After two weeks, you’re likely to look at your list and think you were already drunk while making it. After all, your writing life doesn’t take into account your real life slaving away at your job, raising kids, socializing, sleeping, or eating.
So what’s the part-time writer to do to finish your book?
Practical Writing Tips to Complete Your Book
1. Manage your writing time. If you tell yourself you’re going to spend all day writing, you’ll likely find ways to goof off and say, “Well, I still have seven hours left to write. Okay, six hours. Well, half a day is better than none. I’ll make a sandwich and write for two hours…” It’s the snooze-alarm effect of writing. Pick a short span that you can stick to and then write your heart out. Tell yourself that’s the only time you’re going to get – and mean it. Can you find an hour a day? Two hours on the weekend? Thirty or forty minutes after the kids go to bed?
2. Think long-term. You can’t expect to write War & Peace in a weekend. And would you want to? It’s hard enough to write 10,000 words (roughly 30 double-spaced pages) in a weekend. Accept that this is going to take time, and then type your first page. Just remember – you might be thinking long-term, but you still need to follow Rule #1: Write when you can, but definitely write!
3. Think short-term. This combines one and two: Find a deadline that forces you to write. Join a writers group or tell a friend who won’t let you off the hook that you’ll have something for them to read in a week or two. Or a month. Set a deadline with those who will hold your writing hand to the fire.
4. Outline your story and characters to gain direction. This may be the most controversial of these five since some writers are “pantsers,” that is, those write by the seat of their pants without knowing where they story is going. Of course, they usually have the opposite problem: they write too much and then have to pare it down. In this case, create an outline (even if not a detailed one) and character bios. Refer to it often so that you know where your story is going, then go there.
5. Don’t edit. I know, it’s tempting. After all, what do they tell you? Revise, revise, revise! But don’t do it yet. Not here. Get the story done. The first draft is the hardest to finish, so just keep writing until it’s done.
One other thing: Writing should be your relaxation. If you think it’s work, and you’re moaning and complaining that you have to write, or it’s too hard, then quit. You started this project because you had this idea you had to get down on paper. Find that joy and bring it to the hour or two you get to write.
If your livelihood doesn’t depend on writing, then you’re doing this because you enjoy it – so enjoy it! When you sit down to write, say to yourself, “I want to do this! I’d better take advantage of the time I have now to get it done!”
And before too long, you’ll have it done.