Welcome to Friday on the GWN blog! Today we have Lynn Cahoon talking about finding the time to write.
The problem isn’t in your schedule. The problem is with your thinking. Now before I break into the story about The Little Engine That Could and your eyes glaze over, let’s start over.
You have time to write. You just have to take it.
I can hear the defensive walls being built already and we’re only three paragraphs in to the blog. But truly, the first thing you have to do if you want to find the time to write, is write.
I was one of those people. You know the ones who come up to authors at signings and smugly say I’m going to write a book. Then they add the next word, and you know as the person walks away, it’s not going to happen. What’s the word? Someday.
Well, sometimes, someday never comes. I got slapped upside the head by fate in 2007. I had just moved across the country (to a flyover state as my son likes to call my new home). When I started a new job and became eligible for insurance, I scheduled my checkups. New dentist. New family doc. Mammogram. All checked off. I was feeling pretty healthy and pleased with myself. Then I was called back to do another mammogram and diagnosed with breast cancer. And my someday became a question.
So now I write. And I train people in drilling their days down to the basics so they can find time to write as well. Here’s a few of the tricks I use to get words on the page.
Set a consistent schedule. It doesn’t have to be every day. Except Stephen King writes every day. Just saying. Writing consistently keeps your story in your head, mulling, brewing. And 350 words a day is 10,000 words a month — 120,000 words a year or a full length novel in twelve months. Writing is a job. You need to train yourself to be able to create even when your muse has left the building. The magic comes in the work. Not before.
Just open the document. Sometimes I don’t want to write. I don’t know where the story is going. Those days, I tell myself all I have to do is open the document. As I read over the last few pages, I’ll see an error or a sentence that needs massaging. Before you know it, I’ve reached my daily word goal.
Set a weekly word count goal. Give yourself a goal that’s a stretch, but doable in the time you have. I like working a week at a time. Why? If I miss a day, I have six other days to make word count. Once you know what you can do in a week, you can plan out a schedule, so if you want to pitch a ‘complete’ manuscript at a conference, you’ll know when you have to start to have it finished in plenty of time to be confident in your pitch appointment.
Set an appointment with yourself. Look at your week, and figure out slots of time where you have time. It doesn’t have to be a two hours slot. Maybe it’s only thirty minutes. Or fifteen. Now that I’ve been writing a while, I can draft 1000 words in an hour. If you have no time now, you have to give up something else to make the time. Give up an hour of television a day for your dream. Get up thirty minute early to write. Write on your lunch hour instead of going out with your friends. What, you thought this would be easy? Sorry, you have to sacrifice something if you really want to write.
Finally, be honest with yourself about what you want. It’s okay to dream about writing a book someday. But if you don’t prioritize that dream into a goal that’s specific, measurable, achievable, reasonable, and time based (SMART goal), it will always stay a dream. How bad do you want it?
So what’s your plan to carve out time to work on your dreams?
BIO – Lynn Cahoon is a contemporary romance author with a love of hot, sexy men, real and imagined. Her alpha heroes range from rogue witch hunters, modern cowboys, or hot doctors, sexy in scrubs. And her heroines all have one thing in common, their strong need for independence. Or at least that’s what they think they want. She blogs at her website www.lynncahoon.wordpress.com
Cindy here again.
Thanks so much for being here, Lynn. I needed this kick in the pants pep talk!
July 5, 2013 at 8:32 am
Cindy – thank you for having me over on this (for me) long holiday weekend. And if anyone has questions about ways to find time, I’ll be checking in all day. (As soon as I get my word count in…)
July 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm
Lynn, I’m hanging my head in shame today because I know you’re right.
July 5, 2013 at 6:14 pm
No shame. Just write. 15 minutes or just open the word document.
July 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm
This is so true! That’s why I get up at 4 and write for 90 minutes each morning. I knew that if I was going to take my writing seriously, something had to go. Sleep was it. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it!
July 5, 2013 at 6:15 pm
You go Stacy! I’m not quite that early of a riser, but when I have something I want done? I get up at 4:30 and finish. You are on the right track!
July 5, 2013 at 8:02 pm
Excellent post, Lynn. I try to write something every day. I’m editing now, which also means I’m writing as I “massage” a new book into shape. Love that word. Best of luck on your novels, Lynn!
July 5, 2013 at 8:13 pm
Thanks Deborah. I love editing. For a while. Then I want to tear my hair out. But at first…. LOL
July 5, 2013 at 8:27 pm
Super post, Lynn. There are often days when I don’t think I have anything to write, but, as you say, just opening the document gets ideas flowing!Dreams are wonderful, making them come true, even better!
July 5, 2013 at 9:01 pm
So true Carol. For too many days, I thought I didn’t have words. Then I realized if I don’t try, I don’t have words. Trying and failing is okay. Not trying makes certain you’ll fail.
July 6, 2013 at 4:50 pm
Excellent plan of attack, and I’m going to adapt it for myself. Everything you said is true. We manage to make time for the squeeky wheels in our lives, forever pushing the less noisy wheels to the back burner. All that gets me is having to ‘start over’ each time I finally come back to the page. Well, no more. I’ll be ‘massaging’ my WIP on a regularly scheduled basis and can’t wait to see the word count grow. Thanks Lynn!
July 6, 2013 at 6:01 pm
Hi Jaye – I guess it took me awhile to realize if I didn’t take my writing seriously, no one else would.
Glad you’re focusing. Looking forward to your August release.
July 6, 2013 at 6:02 pm
Lynn, I can really identify with this post. It goes for anything you want to accomplish in life. When my daughter was small, I used to make her clothes. People would say, “How do you work a full time job, keep a house, raise a child and have time to sew?” I told them something has to give. Usually it’s the dishes.
My daughter is grown, but I always look at my manuscript, even when I don’t have a clue where my story is going.
But writing is what we do. 🙂
July 6, 2013 at 10:32 pm
Selena, the dishes is always a good choice when deciding what has to go. LOL
Thanks for stopping in.
July 8, 2013 at 9:49 am
Thanks for the inspiring post, Lynn. I needed the writing boost.
July 9, 2013 at 8:55 am
Thanks for the prod 😉