Time to Write

courtesy Zazzle

The most common question I’ve been asked lately is “How do you have time to write?”

I’m not as prolific as I’d like to be, as I have a full-time job with a lot of responsibility, plus I am a dad as well (though my kids are older), so I can sympathize with writers who have to raise kids, do household chores and other things that command as much attention as writing.

There are those out there that will share ‘hard truths’ about what you need to do in order to write, but I’m not going to share that, because I find it negative.

I will say I don’t have any crazy secret, no alchemy that I perform to get my writing done (though alchemy is cool). I don’t write every day, and on some days that I am able write, it’s devoted to newsletters, marketing copy and my blog. I also write screenplays, which is a totally different animal altogether and requires a different skill set.

But I think my secret is simple, but not easy, and I truly believe that everyone can do it.

What is it?

I commit to 250 words a day.

Why 250?

A printed page of a book is roughly 250 words. I forget where I heard that, and while it doesn’t apply to every book out there, it’s a standard I’ve aimed for and used as a guide since I began writing. I know (on days when I write), that I can write 250 words.

A page a day.

I can hit that goal. And extrapolating that out, if you write 1 page a day for a year, you have a 365-page book.

Like I said, simple. I won’t claim it’s easy because it’s not and I will add three caveats to that.

First of all, I don’t edit as a I go (which I know a lot of authors do). There is time to edit later. You need words to edit, so getting them on the page is paramount.

Second, I am not a discovery writer. I have (some of semblance of) an outline I work with for every book. I don’t necessarily know every story beat, but I always know my ending, a fully formed scene often near the beginning of the story, and the midpoint. I have those for every story I write, in any medium.

The final caveat is I am referring to writing the book itself. Coming up with the plot, characters and my outline is not a hard-and-fast process. Some days, these things flow out of me like water out of a ruptured dam, and others, I may only get a two-sentence paragraph. I don’t feel – unless you’re on deadline – that you can rush and force this.

So that’s it. Commit to a page a day. It may take awhile at first, but the more you do it, the faster it will go. And I tend to get more than a page done during most of my writing sessions. But I commit to a page.

For my fellow writers: what do you think about this? Can you commit to this simple goal? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

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