So you’ve decided you want to write something. GREAT!
But how do you start? When do you start? How long will it take you? How long should it take you?
These are all great questions. And today I want to talk about them.
The answer to all of them is quite frustratingly and annoying simple: Just start writing.
I struggle with this too.
I’ve always wanted to write a novel. My best friend and I started writing one when we were eleven years old. We took turns writing one line at a time. As you’ve probably guessed, it didn’t make it past a couple of pages in our three-ring binder. And it made absolutely no sense.
I’m in my thirties now. Do you think I’ve written that novel yet?
I’ve started many times. Some have been pants-ed — where I’ve just started writing at Chapter One until I ran out of steam. Others have been meticulously planned, scene by scene and beat by beat until I got so bored and frustrated that I resulted to using random writing prompts to spice things up and completely lost any sense of direction or plot and then eventually the desire to write that project fizzled out. My most recent attempt is actually a completed first draft (yay!). It’s full of plot holes and dialogue with no action and I’m terrified to go back and read it and see just how bad it actually is. But the key is, it’s drafted. It’s far from finished, but it’s written.
It took me twenty years to get to this point.
And that’s a loooong time.
When I finally sat down and decided that I was actually going to write that novel, it took me twenty-nine days. From 0 to over 50,0000 words in less than a month. Which is very, very fast and very, very difficult and not something I recommend attempting on a regular basis.
So, how much time should you give yourself to write your project – be it a novel or a short story or something else? Give yourself time, but not too much time.
Twenty years is too much time.
Don’t do what I did and tell yourself that you want to do something and you’ll do it one day. If you really want to write something, make a plan. I chose to participate in NaNoWriMo – a worldwide challenge to write a novel in one month. You can set a more reasonable and less stressful goal. But set the goal.
Give yourself time, but not too much time to write your project:
Give yourself a timeline.
Be it one month or three months or twelve months or something else.
Give yourself a word count to strive for.
Be it 10,000 words or 20,000 words or 50,000 words or something else.
Break down your complete word count into smaller goals.
Be those daily, or weekly, or monthly word count goals.
Stick to your timeline.
Make your writing a priority, put your deadlines in your calendar, and let your friends and family know so they can support you and encourage you.
Celebrate the achievements.
Reward yourself and celebrate with your supporters every time you meet a deadline or a goal, even if it’s to write ten words.
I’m telling you all of this like it’s easy. It’s not. It’s something that I constantly struggle with.
I have two book projects on the go right now, my novel from NaNoWriMo 2019 and a non-fiction project that I outlined in the middle of NaNo. I haven’t touched either of those projects yet this month. I haven’t yet set my timelines for draft two of the novel or draft one of the non-fiction book. It’s a lot of work and is intimidating.
But I know that setting those goals and timelines is the only way that I’ll actually achieve my dream of writing a book.
I challenge you to sit down with a notebook and your calendar and set your timeline.
Give yourself time to write your project, recognizing that while you really want to write it, you still have to live normal life and work and take care of your family and see your friends and grocery shop and clean the bathroom.
As for me, I’m going to have draft two of my novel completed by April 1, 2020. I drafted it in a month, I’m going to do my best to revise it in three.