When my friends ask me, “How do you find the time to write?” I don’t always know how to respond without sounding like a condescending jackass. I usually come up with some simplified (but true) recitation of how long it takes to write a book, which goes something like this:
It takes me just under 45 minutes to write 1,000 words of fiction (assuming it’s a long project. It takes a longer for short fiction because I have to think up the entire plot on the fly.) I do this by waking up an hour early for work and getting it done then. I do the same on the weekend. So it takes *does quick math* around two an a half months to write a full length novel if you go at it every day.
To others that don’t write, I leave out the part that editing takes at least as long (twice as long for me). I leave out the hours of reading that it takes to gain the competency that it takes to write a novel. However, the fact remains. With a little discipline and an early wake up call, you can write a book…period.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say they want to do something, but they don’t have time for it. Whether it’s working out, writing a book, reading, etc., it’s annoying to me. Why? If you want something bad enough, you’ll make time for it. There’s not some benevolent angel passing out additional hours to a lucky few. Everyone has to use the time that they have. You can wake up early, go to bed late, do it on your lunch break, sacrifice *gasp* an hour or so of T.V., sacrifice that hour or so you bullshit around on the computer each day (I’m pretty sure everyone does this.) Get creative–but don’t say that you don’t have enough time. Instead, say that it’s not that important to you.
We all have 24 hours in the day; use them wisely.
1. I’m completely garbage when it comes to spelling.
- It’s embarrassing! I ought to be ashamed of myself. If you could only see the words I misspell on a regular basis, you’d think I was a moron (I just misspelled the word misspell for the record). I don’t know how I made it past the third grade sometimes. Thank god for spell-check, or this entire post would be unreadable.
2. Your book will be ruined by passive voice.
- Shout out to my eleventh grade English teacher for telling us we shouldn’t use passive voice. I never saw the problem with it, though. Then I read my own writing—it sounds awful, weak, awkward, stale, [insert other negative adjectives]. It’s hard to avoid it entirely. I still live in a glass house when it comes to b*%#$ing about passive voice, but I try to avoid it like the plague.
3. It’s not as difficult as you think.
- I went into it thinking it would be a near impossible task that I’d struggle with for the better part of a year. Then I read a book called On Writing by my favorite author Stephen King which changed my whole mindset. He said it shouldn’t take your more than three months to write your first draft. Challenge Accepted! It’s all about setting word count goals. Mine happened to be 1,000 words a day which put me at a finishing time of 80 days. But I found words come easy once you get going, and I finished in a little over two months. If you keep showing up every day, you’ll get it done. It won’t seem like an impossible task, once you get going.
That being said…
4. Rewriting is the real work.
- My mindset going in: Writing the first draft would take ages. Then, after a couple passes through my novel for spelling and grammar, it’s all set to go. Wrong. Rewriting is exactly that. You have to go through the book, make sure it’s paced correctly for your genre. You need to make sure you develop the characters well, so they don’t become corny, cardboard cutout caricatures—easier said than done. You have to move scenes around, get rid of others, write new ones, and fill every plot hole you originally missed. Then you send it to other people to look for more problems in the plot (there will be more), and finally someone has to check spelling, grammar and punctuation, as well. Rewriting/editing is the real challenge.
5. If you try really hard, you can come up with all kinds of crazy story ideas.
- I never thought of myself as a creative person at all. Yet, when I put my mind to it, I create fake people, places, events, brand names, slogans, etc. Has all of this crap always in my head? I have no idea. Either everyone has the ability to come up with crazy stories straight from their imagination, or I’m a little insane—only time will tell. I like to think the former is true, but you never know, do you?
The picture above is the digital voice recorder I keep on my nightstand. Need story/plot ideas? They seem to come much easier when you’re half asleep for some reason. However, around a third of the recordings on there are inarticulate ramblings from my subconscious (which is a good title for a book, in and of itself).
6. The hardest part about writing is that voice in your head that doesn’t stop screaming, “You suck!”
- Everyone has an inner critic. I don’t know about you—but mine just won’t shut the #$@& up! It’s sooo easy to give up because you feel you’re not good enough; because you fear what others will say; because you’re afraid of being wrong or standing out; because you don’t want people to think you’re a sociopath—whatever it may be. I’ve managed to overcome those thoughts (for the time being), but it’s a constant struggle.