Do you struggle to find the time to write? Do you wish you could make substantial progress on your WIP but find the weeks flashing by without writing a single word?
You’re not the only one.
My plan was to make significant progress on my current WIP over the summer. What happened?
I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo for a couple of weeks. I wrote 22,000 words but didn’t reach the finish line. After that, I hardly wrote a word for weeks. The truth is I’m a very competitive person (especially with myself) so I felt horrible about not “winning.”
I couldn’t face the story for a while, but I knew I had to get back to it and finish it. I was anxious to start revisions on another novel, but I was not allowing myself to do that until I was through with this book. If I’ve learning anything about writing, it’s that you should always finish your projects.
So I began writing again. Off and on again at first, like a bad relationship. Then I decided to make an easy writing schedule I could follow. One that I could adhere to even when life got in the way.
I settled on writing for fifteen minutes a day four times a week. For each session, I thought five hundred words would be reasonable, but I had to write a very minimum of a hundred. I went easy on myself, and it worked.
It’s actually been a few weeks, and I’m almost at 26K words.
I always pass the five hundred-word goal before my fifteen minutes are up. I often keep writing. This routine seems to be working well for me.
It means I add at least 2,000 words to my story in a week and about 8,000 in a month. It means I’ll easily finish the book by December 1st as I had hoped.
But I think I can do better. I really, really want to start those revisions I mentioned earlier. If I can do four 15-minute sprints a week, surely I can double that and be done by mid-October. I’ll simply have a sprint in the morning and another in the afternoon. It’ll be painless.
I’ll be adding 4,000 words a week to my story, or 16,000 a month. All in thirty minutes a day four times a week. Two hours.
So I start this new routine this week, although I’ve already missed two days of sprints this week due to Labor Day and a day full of errands and headaches. No problem. I’ll have my usual number of words anyway if I just do the two sprints a day for two days.
I keep thinking how easy it is to complain that we can’t find the time to write. I know if anyone did that, it as me. However, with this new routine, it’s hard to say that.
I’m learning that making the time to write is a lot easier than we make ourselves believe. It boils down to opening your document and typing for even five minutes. Do that just one day. Then do it again the next day. It gets easier with each day that goes by until you find yourself writing way past a time frame you thought possible.
You might think that you’re a slow writer, and it’s not possible for you to write a lot of words in just fifteen minutes.
So here are some tips for writing fast and surpassing that word count goal:
- Know what you’re going to write. Do this by plotting in your head throughout the day while you’re cooking or taking a shower. You can also create a basic outline. Then, imagine the scene in your head. Visualize it before you sit down. What does the setting look like? What do the characters say and do? How do they react? When you do sit down, replay the scene out in your head and simply describe what you’re seeing.
- Pretend it’s a race. Quality doesn’t matter. Don’t worry about using adverbs, clichés, new paragraphs, etc. Who cares if you’ve used the word "pretty" seventeen times in the last two pages? Use it again. Who cares if the last five pages are one huge paragraph? Write the story down first. Worry about making it shine later.
- Don’t look at your word count. I use Scrivener, and I love using the Project Target bars to set and meet deadlines. But when I’m writing, I go into Composition mode and block them out. I set a minimum I have to reach but forget about it once I start. Before I know it, the story’s grabbed me and I’ve reached my daily goal.
If you’re struggling to make progress on your WIP a simple routine like this might just do the trick. A lot of people say you should write every day, but it’s okay to start with a couple of times a week.
Sometimes, you also have a lot of commitments such as parenting, school, or a full-time job. This kind of routine gives you the balance you need without fear of burning out.
Just writing 500 words in fifteen minutes four times a week translates to 96,000 words a year. That’s a novel. Doing two fifteen-minute springs a day four times a week gives you 192,000 words a year. Two novels. Making the time to write is definitely not as hard as you might think.
What’s your writing routine like? How do you make the time to write while balancing a full plate? What works for you?