It is the act of writing that makes you a writer. Talking about writing, reading about writing, and blogging about writing doesn’t do it. Those are all good extras, but only by putting words on paper, by creating something out of nothing, do you become a writer.
In her book, How I write, Janet Evanovich has great advice regarding time and discipline. Evanovich has sold more than 75 million books. She was the third richest author in the world, after James Patterson and Stephen King, in 2012 (Forbes Richest Authors) and she featured on the list in 2015, 2014, and 2013. She is the best-selling author of the Stephanie Plum series, 12 romance novels, as well as the Alexandra Barnaby series. She is hysterically funny and seriously successful.
Write something every day, even if it means getting just a few sentences on the screen. Here are four ways to accomplish this:
- Do it by time: Start small, if you want. Start with five minutes and increase the time by five minutes a day. In two weeks you’ll be sitting at your desk for about an hour a day. Add more time as you choose.
- Do it by pages: Start with one paragraph a day and work toward a page a day. If you do only that, by year’s ends you will have written 365 pages.
- Do it by word count: Plan to write a specific number of words a day. Hemingway wrote around 500 words a day – approximately two pages.
- Do it by appointment: Treat writing like any other part of your daily routine. Carve out a place – the corner of a room or the kitchen table – and a certain time of each day for writing. Then show up for work.
I love this advice. Increasing the time and pages seems like a good idea, because it is like exercise and getting yourself fit instead of plunging straight in and becoming overwhelmed. Word counts and appointments are concrete commitments. Those are good.
And I want to add one of my own:
Do it by hand: Keep a pen and notebook nearby. Somewhere in your day there is a ten minute gap that can become a writing time. The odd break between two meetings, the last ten minutes of your lunch break, the five minutes you wait outside the school for your kids. You don’t have to be at your desk, in front of your computer.
It is easier said than done, but it is definitely do-able. Life is always going to be in the way. Friends and family all intrude with love and the best intentions, but you have to stand firm. I have banned all sentences that contain the words “Can you just quickly…”. I have a harder time with sentences that contain the word “lunch”, but I am trying.
Don’t let anyone, including you, get in your way. Commit to yourself. Send yourself a meeting invite if you have to. Hire yourself as a client (Thanks, Anthony Ehlers, for that one), book a meeting room for ten minutes at the same time every day, and go write.
Whatever works for you, do it. Make the time. Fight for it.
by Mia Botha
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