Ask a would-be author what’s stopping them from starting, or completing, their manuscript and more often than not their answer will have something to do with TIME—as in, struggling to find the time to write a book, or at least enough of it to make true progress.
Sometimes this is true. Some people are trying to juggle too many things and so other tasks end up taking up any free time they might have. Others psych themselves out before they even get started, buying into the myth that to be a “real” writer you’ve got to get out of bed at the crack of dawn or stay up until the wee hours of the morning and get four solid hours of writing in each day.
While it’s true that writing a book takes time, it’s also true that we all have the time to do it.
The key is to: a) prioritize your writing, b) make a plan for exactly when you’re going to do it, c) form a writing habit.
In this post, we’re going to broadly examine the concept of TIME as it relates to writing.
WHEN SHOULD YOU WRITE?
First, there’s the issue of when to write. First thing in the morning? On your commute? On your lunch break?
I encourage writers to try writing during different times of day as a way of discovering when their best writing happens. Just like with identifying one’s best writing environments, here we’re looking to identify the time of day when we can most easily access and enter FLOW in our writing.
HOW LONG SHOULD YOU WRITE FOR?
Secondly, there’s the issue how long a writing session should be. I’ll talk about this more in my next post where I cover writing schedules and words per day, but for now, it’s important to get to know how long you can sustain productive writing output in one sitting.
Pinning yourself down to a four-hour stretch might be perfect for you, but if you’re someone who needs to work in shorter bursts, it could spell disaster. Personally, I write in twenty-to-thirty minute chunks. Anything longer and I start to get tired and lose focus, which invariably means I care less about the quality of the writing. And of course, it’s all downhill from there. But I know that for that first half-hour, I’m producing quality content, so that’s what I focus on.
The good news? It IS possible to make time work for you when you’re writing a book. Like any other aspect of book writing, the key is planning ahead and knowing what you need to be successful. Understanding your ideal writing time—both time of day and length of writing session—is a critical part of that equation.
In Part 2 of this post, I’ll cover the process of scheduling your writing.