One of the most annoying things about being an author when you have a full-time job is finding the time to actually write. Getting into a creative mode can be harder than making a perfect croissant (that’s hard people, have you tried to make them!? Those french bakers really just outdo themselves).
I once heard from a smart woman at one point in my life that you can set aside a block of time but only 1/3 of that time is actually “productive”. That goes for creativity too! Give yourself an hour of time but you really only have about 20 minutes of productive writing completed. So with that in mind, what are the options to writing a full length novel with intricate story structure, in depth characters, and tiny details that carry throughout the entire 500 page tomb!? Well, I got you covered 😉
The top question I am asked over and over again when it comes to writing is, ‘How did you do it?’. That’s easy, I sat down and I wrote every possible second I could! The harder part, is knowing how to write efficiently and do it in a way that will help you get to an end of some sorts. Here is my advice for what got me through my first novel when I had very little time, a lot of ideas flowing through my mind, and the glimmering hope that I would finish this book within the plan I had set up for myself.
STEP ONE: Write an Outline
This may seem extremely obvious to a lot of people. “Of course you write an outline Jessica, why would anyone not do that?” You would be surprised how many people don’t do this! Most I think are afraid of what the outline represents and also how to lay one out in a way that makes the most sense. A second reason many authors don’t create an outline is that they aren’t yet sure what they want to write. An outline can help you break through this issue!
When I was working through NANOWRIMO prep (#nanowrimo2018) I DIDN’T HAVE AN OUTLINE. I know, naughty naughty Jessica, but I did push myself to create one three weeks prior to the event because I knew how much it would help even though I didn’t yet know the full extent and details of the book I was going to write. At this point, I was onto my second book in the Praetorian Rising series, so I knew a general direction and overall scope of the work but I didn’t have the full extent of details laid out in my head like I did for the first book. I was a bit scared and thought maybe diving in and just going would work? But that is where you are wrong! If you don’t have a scribbled road map you will find yourself on dead end road…the infamous WRITER’S BLOCK!
Here’s the thing…. even if you don’t follow your outline 100% it gives you something to write. You will never crash into writers block when you have a guide of where you are going in a loose structure. If you find a scene that isn’t working, skip it! Move onto the next block. You know you can dive back in and turn around at any time when the creative juices slam into your system just right, then you can go back and update what you missed before.
You will thank yourself for the outline when you hit these snags, trust me!
STEP 2: Set Aside a Block of Time Twice a Week
Maybe this is also obvious, but I think you need to rethink your week if you are unable to set aside the time to write. Everyone is on a tight schedule, we all have our priorities. What you choose to make with your time is up to you. Do you want to finish your book or do you want to go drinking with your friends at the bar down the street because it’s margarita Monday and you are just dying for a spicy margarita!! Yeah, I thought so
Now, that doesn’t mean to ONLY work. You need down time too. The only way you are going to write convincing characters and in-depth structured stories is by living life. So here’s my plan of action:
- Pick three things you want to accomplish for the week on Sunday before your week really kicks off. Pick the days, the times, the amount of time you want to spend on those things and MAKE IT HAPPEN.
- Stay true to the schedule.
Don’t allow yourself to throw in the towel, complain you don’t have
timeor that it just doesn’t feel right. Once you sit down to write the words will start to flow.
- Don’t let anyone pull you away from the time you have outlined to work. It’s easy to be
distactedby invites and parties, outings in great weather but if you said you would be up on Saturday morning to write chapter seven than you better be doing that!
- PUT DOWN THE PHONE! DISCONNECT!!! This one is hard….even for me this one is…..(oh, hold on one second I just got an Instagram message! Damn it….) tough. The key to this little pesky problem, NOTIFICATIONS! I learned this trick from Matt Haig, one of my favorite authors. Silence ALL of your notifications. If you have nothing dinging and blinking and poking at you when you are in the middle of writing, then you have nothing to pull
awayyour attention. You can always turn the notifications back on. But it’s much more easy to ignore something you can’t see is there,than to ignore a blinking light telling you that you have 72 hits on your new
STEP THREE: Don’t Stop Writing
Again, maybe this is obvious but I like to think of that little pesky saying, “If you don’t use it, you will lose it!” This isn’t really true, but I will say that once you have the creative juices flowing, once you stop writing, it is so much harder to start back up again!
Don’t let time and distractions take you away from your goal of completing your book. Last year 2018 I had zero words written and no outline. By December 2018 I had 170,000 words of a first draft for book two of my book series. If you put in the time, and the effort, you can make it happen!
If you have more questions on how to outline and what outlines work best for me send me a message! I would love to hear from you my peeps! And for my day to day updates and fun silliness, follow me on instagram 🙂