So, here it is! The final article in my series to get you writing. The first two were about how to find your idea and how to develop your content. Now: my top tips for knuckling down and actually writing.
Getting down to business
- Turn off the internet! This is the first essential step. Do all of your research and preparation beforehand. When it’s time to actually write, no kitten videos allowed. (When I’m writing I go to a local cafe that doesn’t have wifi – perfect for smashing out a few thousand words.)
- Turn off your mobile and put it in another room, so you’re not even tempted.
- Have a plan and a goal for what you’re going to write in that particular sitting. A daily target of 500 or 1000 words is achievable for most people.
- Plan regular, non-negotiable time in your schedule to write.
- Find a writing buddy – but make sure it’s somebody actually committed to writing and not just talking about it. Work out a plan with your buddy, and check in with them regularly to make sure you are both on track.
- Make sure your friends, family and pets know when you’re writing and to leave you alone during these times.
- Have a dedicated writing set-up – a laptop you use just for writing is awesome. Or if you can’t do that, at least make sure you are comfortable and distraction-free where you write.
- Don’t multi-task. Writing time is for writing, and occasionally patting the dog. That’s it.
- Don’t waste time fussing over what software you use. A lot of great books were written before Scrivener came along.
- Don’t edit as you write. You’re much closer to your finished book with 5000 words that need more work than 500 words of perfection.
- Talk to people who have written and published a book and ask them about their routines. You don’t need to duplicate them but you might get some ideas.
- Find yourself an editor, start discussing your book with them, and schedule a date to start editing. Nothing like a deadline for some motivation! And if you really want to up the stakes, pay them a deposit. You can also get started on your book cover. This really makes your book come to life.
- Write even when you don’t feel like it. But, having said that, there are times when you are genuinely tapped and you need a break. If you have the odd day when you just know it’s not going to happen, take a day off – but only one.
- Be well organised. Have your computer well set up, have any notes and research handy when you need them, and have the coffee in the cupboard and the milk in the fridge before you sit down.
- Reward yourself for reaching goals both small and large. If you’ve met your targets for the week, go out to your favourite restaurant on Friday night. And here’s a great idea for a larger goal: when I was writing Stand Out, I bought an expensive bottle of champagne, put a sticky note on it saying ‘To be opened at 30,000 words’, took a photo of it and sent it to my writing buddy. Then I put the bottle on the kitchen bench where I’d see it every day.
- Commit to it. REALLY commit to it. There is no such thing as ‘not enough time’. What that really means is ‘it’s not a high enough priority’. If you want to get your book done, make it a high priority.
There’s still a lot more for you to do, but hopefully over three articles I’ve given you enough information to understand what you need to do to get started and enough encouragement to know that you can do it too. I look forward to reading your book!