One of the biggest obstacles that new writers tell me they face when writing their first book is finding the time in their already hectic schedules to write the darn thing. It’s such a prevalent issue among writers, that it can totally cripple them and zero writing gets done. That’s why I thought it was a topic worth discussing on my blog. So here are my thoughts on this issue.
First Problem – Hearsay Paralysis
One of the problems I see is that writers and aspiring authors often psych themselves out based on what rhetoric (and some truth) on what they’ve heard about writing a book. How many times have you heard somewhere that it took them a year, 3 years, even 10 years to write a book. While this does happen a lot with fiction writing because of the sheer creative process at play, it really doesn’t need to happen with non-fiction writers. Non-fiction is concrete. There are no abstracts. You write the facts about a topic, your experience with the topic, and of course your opinion on the topic, wrap it up in a nice bow and present it to readers. If you KNOW what you are writing about, it should not take you years to finish your first book. That leads me to my second point…
Second Problem – Zero Authority
You may have a lot of great book ideas but it’s important to understand which ones make sense for you to pursue, especially in non-fiction writing. You will be a lot more productive when you write on a topic that you are an authority on versus one that you have no experience with and therefore have to do research around. You will also probably get a lot more sales when you write from a place of authority because most people rather learn from someone who knows through experience versus research. Bottom line – write what you know about.
Third Problem – Life Gets In The Way
The reality is that we all have families, careers, hobbies, emails to return, bills to pay and other things that fill our lives. There is only but so much time in a day and we have to sleep right? This was definitely a big problem for me and it’s one that I continue to battle. I guess on some level I will always be a distraction addict:) So one of the shifts that I had to make was to make writing my books a priority. It could no longer be the thing I got to once I was finished all the other things I had to do. It had to be #1 or at least #2 in my life at some point of EVERY DAY. That’s right. Making writing a part of my day (like brushing my teeth) was the solution for me. It may have only been a paragraph or it may have been 2000+ words but whatever it was – I got something written and that was crucial in getting the writing done. Which leads me to my list of suggestions for finding the time to write your book…
Finding The Time To Write – Real World Solutions
1. Change your mindset about writing a book. There are so set rules to how long it should take especially in today’s publishing climate. Don’t let the fear of how long you THINK it’s going to take dictate how much effort and energy you put into writing. Just do it!
2. Make a comprehensive and ongoing list of problems that you can solve for people based on your own credentials and/or experience. Do not put anything on the list that you know nothing about just because you heard it’s a “hot topic” for a book. You will refer to this list when deciding on what the topic of your next book will be.
3. If you get stuck with the getting your thoughts down on paper or on your laptop, then start getting them out by recording them using a smartphone or mini recorder while you’re on the go. You can transcribe what you’ve spoken later.
4. Wake up earlier or go to bed later. This is one that I use regularly. I use to think that I got more done when there was activity and noise around me (like when I was in high school and college), but I think I was deluding myself or maybe I’m just getting older:) The reality is that I get a lot more clarity in the earlier hours of the day when the kids aren’t up yet or late night when they are all tucked in. My mind is just too busy thinking about “what’s next” to write in the middle of the day sometimes. Plus it’s literally much quieter and I can concentrate on getting my thoughts down in an organized manner.
5. Make writing your book a priority and carve out time during your day dedicated to ONLY writing the book. Close all other computer applications. Certainly avoid email. Turn off ringer on the phone. And most of all – STICK to the time that you dedicate for writing and it will become habit.
6. Identify the biggest time sucker of your day or evening (like television) and use one of the hours you would spend on that activity and dedicate it to writing. For example if you have a favorite television show that is on for an hour every week, you may want to decide to record that show with your DVR or something and use that hour for writing. You can always watch the show later and there’s no rule saying that you have to watch the show the time that it actually airs.
7. Add a dose of accountability. Tell someone in your inner circle that you are writing a book and ask them to hold you accountable by asking you if you’ve written today – and be truthful about it. There’s no race with anyone to finish your book besides yourself. Sometimes having someone tell you at the end of the week that you’ve only written one out of seven days is just what you need to get focused.