So many people – people that you might not even expect – have the beginning of a novel hidden somewhere in a drawer or closet. They sat down and started writing because they had something to say and a story to tell. The vast majority started out strong, writing pages and pages each week, and then slowly lost momentum as they encountered difficult passages or become distracted by another aspect of their lives. Their untold story remains untold, languishing for years in a forgotten file folder.
If this sounds like you, you need to get back to your writing desk (or kitchen table or coffee shop). You had something to say once and, chances are, you still do. Here are 5 steps to finally getting that novel done.
1. Make a Commitment
Writing a book takes a lot of time. While you don’t have to get your novel written in one month (unless the NaNoWriMo style appeals to you), you don’t want it to sit in your desk drawer for decades either. The only difference between a wish and a goal is a real commitment with a deadline. Therefore, instead of saying you’ll get that novel done “someday”, you should make a definite commitment:
I will finish my 70,000-word novel by June 30th.
2. Break It Down into Daily Goals
Nobody can write 70,000 words in one day, not even John Grisham. That’s why it makes sense to break your goal down into smaller chunks. Instead of aiming for 70,000 words during the next 7 months, you can break it down to 7,000 words per month or 1,750 words per week. That’s not such a scary number, is it? In fact, 1,750 words a week comes out to only 350 words per day if you write 5 days a week and take 2 days off. Use an app to track your daily word counts and keep you on target.
3. Schedule Your Writing Times and Use Automatic Reminders
It’s probably difficult to fit writing into your daily schedule. There are always a millions things to could/should be doing – laundry, errands, grocery shopping. If writing is officially scheduled in as an essential part of your week, you are more likely to make it happen. And using automatic reminders to say “You should be writing!” is hard to ignore. While it would be most effective to hire a personal drill sergeant to yell at you to sit down and write, most of us don’t have that option. Instead, you can schedule writing time in the calendar and let your phone pester you instead.
4. Use Idle Time Wisely
One the one hand, your day never has enough hours, but on the other hand, you spend a lot of your life waiting around with nothing to do. You sit idly in your doctor’s waiting room, at the DMV, or on the bus. Use these moments to work on your novel. You will be amazed what you can accomplish while you are out and about with just your cell phone or tablet. Writing programs like Novelize let you access your writing from a range of mobile devices so you can always work on your manuscript, wherever you are.
5. Let Go of Perfection
Sometimes it’s difficult to keep writing without going back and second-guessing yourself. The problem is that if you constantly edit the content you’ve already written, then you may never finish your novel. Ideally, you should let go of trying to make it perfect book and just write. Get to the end of your first draft, take a few weeks away from it, and then you can go back and make it better (which is when ProWritngAid comes in handy!). Everyone’s first draft is a long way from perfection. Think of it as a starting point from which to build.
It’s not easy to write a novel. That’s why more people talk about writing than write. Don’t be one of those people whose novel remains forgotten and unloved in a drawer. Get it finished and out into the world. Your story deserves it.