Today ‘Jacked’ by Kirk Dougal releases. Happy Book Birthday! It’s so good. I’m currently reading it at the moment and I’m enjoying it a lot. (Review to come very soon) I’m delighted to have Jack on my blog today talking about finding time to write. It’s always amazing to have any of the authors from Ragnarok Publications on the blog. If you get the chance, you should pop over and say hello to both Ragnarok and Kirk on Twitter. Ragnarok has some of the best authors and employees to reach out and talk with, and that’s why I love them so much.
I want to thank Kirk for being on the blog today. It’s always fun to have awesome people on the blog. Now – Onto the post!
6 Tips to Finding Time to Write
By Kirk Dougal
There are two things that all writers must do to move toward publication, whether it is their first short story or fifteenth novel:
1) Writers write.
2) Writers read.
Now while the second point is almost as important, in this article we are going to concentrate on the first. Writers write.
“But I don’t have time to write,” says a voice from the back of the room.
And that is okay. It just means you are not a writer. It means that you write as a hobby and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You can still create character sheets, sketch out plot lines, and crank out a short story every once in a while. You can still enjoy it.
But you are not a writer.
If, by chance, the person who spoke up from the back really does want to be a writer and they honestly believe the only thing holding them back is finding the time to get words on a page, here are six tips to help them. But before you read on, understand there is nothing new or magical in this list. It is a combination of what has worked for me personally or other authors who have been kind enough to share their processes. What this list does represent is a path to finding the dedication and time to being a writer.
1) Make writing a priority every day – This does not mean that writing has to be the ultimate priority in front of your spouse and children, but it can not be last on your list, either. And about those last two words—every day—those mean something as well. Some days you will rip out 5,000 words and you will wonder how you ever got it done in such a short time. The next day the best you might manage is 250 words on your work-in-process. It might mean sketching out the back story of your main character on an envelope on your commute or plotting the next ten chapters at lunch time but making writing a priority means you find a way to write every day.
Oh, and while we are at it, there is no such thing as a willowy woman whispering ideas into your ear. Muses do not exist. So there is no excuse of, “I could not write today because the muse was not with me.” You write, every day.
2) Drop activities that are unproductive – This tip calls for you to show a little bit of a mean streak to work. The busy work that expands to fill a three-hour slot on Thursday night—drop it. You need to write. That favorite reality television show you watch every Tuesday night—drop it. You need to write. That visit with the person that is never just a five-minute stop, always blowing up into a two-hour delay in your day—drop them. You can add negative people into this spot as well. You need to write. This next one is even tougher: Those short stories and manuscripts that you just can not seem to get right, always needing just one more draft, one more revision bringing the total to sixteen—drop them. You need to move on and write. If the stories really are worthy of being finished, you may discover the answer while working on other projects. That has happened to me.
3) Make a schedule – There is an old saying that goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” In this case, the meaning translates into, “If you don’t make a schedule to write, it will never be scheduled.” Your day-to-day routine may mean you get three hours to write on Monday night, half an hour on Tuesday, and an hour every other night. That is fine, write every day. You may need to be flexible with the schedule. When my children were younger, I needed to write once they and my wife went to bed. I completed two novels in seven months, all of them written from ten o’clock at night until two in the morning through the week. Yes, there were a lot of mornings when I was tired when I went to work but I wrote every night.
4) Make a writing space – This tip may be more helpful to some people than others. Declare a spot your writing area. It may be a quiet room or it could be the corner of the living room in a ratty old recliner but when you enter that area it is your writing space. By training yourself to think of writing every time you enter that spot, your mind will adapt and fall into a pattern, increasing productivity.
5) Time yourself – Again, this is a tip that will work differently from writer to writer. Even if I am ripping out words and everything is flowing, I like to get up and move around at least once every hour to hour and a half. It is healthier for your body and keeps you more alert. That is my process. I have a friend who writes in fifteen-minute chunks. He writes for fifteen minutes than gets up and changes the laundry for fifteen minutes. Or he answers email, surfs some websites, or posts on Facebook but then he returns to write for fifteen minutes. Experiment and find what time limit works best for you.
6) Set goals and track your work – Just as important as starting to write is finding a way to quantify what you have accomplished, especially if you are working on a novel or larger work. Sitting down and writing a 95,000-word novel is a daunting task when it is looked at as one block of work. So cut it up into manageable sizes. Set a goal of 500 words every day or 5,000 per week. If you don’t like quantifying by words, set goals in time. Write for an hour every day whether it produces 100 words or 1,000. But also track your progress against the goals. Bask in the realization that you are 10,000 words ahead of schedule on your first draft. Or, realize that you need to buckle down and work a little harder because you are behind your goal schedule. Accountants say that if something cannot be counted/measured, it did not happen. Your writing can be measured so use it to keep up your motivation.
And remember, writers write.
Kirk Dougal has had fiction works appear in multiple anthologies and released his debut novel, Dreams of Ivory and Gold in May of 2014 through Angelic Knight Press, with a 2nd edition released in February 2015. His YA/thriller novel, Jacked, leads the launch of Ragnarok Publications’ Per Aspera SF imprint in 2016. He is also waiting on the publication of his SF/LitRPG novel, Reset, while completing the sequel to Dreams, Valleys of the Earth.
Kirk is currently working in a corporate position with a group of newspapers after serving as a group publisher and editor-in-chief. He lives in Ohio with his wife and four children. For more information on his writings or just to find out what he has been doing, you can find Kirk at his website, www.kirkdougal.com, or hanging out on Facebook and Twitter.