A lot of people strive to write a novel as a new year’s resolution, but how easy is it to let the goal fall through the cracks? We all have jobs, families, friends, and a social life, so it’s not always easy to find time to get your daily writing done.
How does anyone get this done? They make it a habit. I don’t know many other writers personally, but I’m pretty sure that those who put out new material fairly often make sure they have writing figured into their day. Every day. It’s easy to make excuses, we all do. But if you want to write a novel by the end of the year, here are a few steps that I found helpful when I accomplished my goals in 2013.
Make it a habit
I can’t say this enough. If it’s not on your to-do list every day, it’s easy to put it off.
Oh, I’ll write tomorrow.
I can just do it all this weekend.
I’ll wait until the summer when I have more time.
Wrong! The more that you put it off, the easier it is to keep putting it off. I find that if I don’t write on a given day, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much of anything. Once you have that mindset, it’s easy to keep it going. Until then, develop your habit of writing daily.
Know that it won’t be any good, and make your peace with it
Yes, we all think we’re going to write the next great American novel right out of the gate. We’re not. The first draft is going to be filled with typos, grammar errors, punctuation errors, etc. Doubly so if it’s your first time writing a substantial amount.
That’s okay…that’s what editing is for. When you write your first draft, don’t go back and read it until you’re done. You’ll only get discouraged. Instead, just keep plowing forward as if you’re writing the best book known to man. It makes the process so much quicker.
Watch less T.V.
We all love T.V. It’s a great, quick way of receiving stories and information. That being said, it’s a big waste of time for the most part.
I don’t know what it is–put me in front of the television, and I can’t get anything productive accomplished. It’ll hypnotize you. If you want to get serious about writing, you’ll need to sacrifice some T.V. time.
It seems counter-intuitive. Reading takes time away from writing, right?
Kind of. But it’s necessary for inspiration (for me at least). It also allows you to see the tricks of the trade: what works, what doesn’t, how to _____, etc. Reading about writing is good, but I think reading the types of stories that you want to write can be even better.
Make it visible
As in, make sure you know how close you are to your writing goals. I suggest word count goals since that’s the easiest way to tell whether or not you’re getting anything done as a writer.
- Daily writing goals (1,000 words when I’m working on a project)
- Project writing goals
- In 2014, I have a yearly writing goal (300,000 words)
I know that I’ll need to write a few books and a lot of blog posts as well. I have a spreadsheet marking my yearly goal, and I utilize the ‘project target’ window in Scrivener (the writing software I use) to track the others. Do whatever works for you, but make sure that you track your progress. Hell, even offer rewards to yourself when you hit certain milestones if that’s motivates you.
I hope this post was helpful to those that want to knock out a manuscript in 2014.