Chipping Away at Rocks…
Not all writers can spend a lot of time typing away at a keyboard each day. In fact, many would-be writers say, with absolute sincerity: “I’m just itching to get to this novel I’ve had in me for a while, but I have absolutely no time.”
Well, I’d like to claim that there is no such thing as no time at all. You don’t have to have a lot of time, but you need to set aside a daily portion of it, however small, to write.
Even if you have little available time for writing, consistency is absolutely essential for those who want a jab at writing and publishing professionally. Consistent daily output adds up, even though each separate day might not feel very productive. It’s like chopping away at a great big rock with a hammer: you break off a tiny piece each time, and while for a long while it may seem as though you aren’t doing anything at all, eventually the rock will crumble.
What exactly do I mean? It’s better to put in 1,000 words a day, every day than writing 5000 words in a single exhausting burst and then need a week’s worth recovery time.
If you outline carefully and know exactly what you want to write next, those 1,000 words can be written very quickly – in 30-45 minutes. Most people can carve out 30 minutes of their day to do whatever… I mean, most people do carve out a lot more than 30 minutes, without even being aware of it, to do stuff like hang out on social media or watch cat videos on YouTube.
When I began writing my most recent release, Wild Children, I was dealing with two little kids at home, pregnancy exhaustion, and an unstable housing situation. Finding time to write really was like pulling teeth. So I didn’t have 30 minutes available each day, but I took advantage of what I could get – 20, 15, 10 minutes – figuring that two paragraphs are better than nothing.
Your Daily Writing Habit:
At 1,000 words a day, 5 days a week, 20 days a month, it will add up to 20,000 words a month. It means you write the first draft of a 100,000-word novel in 5 months. It’s two solid books a year which, while not insanely productive, is a respectable output.
I know, I know – the first draft needs to be edited, it needs to be proofread, it needs to be sent out to stand in the throng of queries if you trad-pub; and if you self-pub, you need to format, obtain cover design, publish and market.
But still, those 1,000 words a day will get you in the right direction. So don’t be sorry you can’t put in 2K, 3K or whatever it is other people write daily.
I don’t know what challenges you might be facing in your life right now. Maybe you have a day job, kids, elderly parents, other commitments. Maybe you have a spouse who thinks their hour-long browse of AliExpress is legit recreation, but your hour writing is shameful neglect of family duties. Heck, I’ve had periods in my life (mostly during Mommy Boot Camp with newborns) when I was so desperate for some writing time that instead of taking a long shower every day, I took a shower every second day and wrote instead. And I carved out epic novels. It was a slow, frustrating haul but it happened – one word at a time.
Just do what you can, and do it consistently, and it will pay off!
Hannah Ross is the author of the dystopian novel Wild Children, and of several other books. She enjoys a quiet rural life with her husband and three children. Follow Hannah’s blog, Flight of Fantasy.