(1) Schedule your timeWe all have 24 hours in the day, and we all have to balance the real life stuff with the writing. Before I was a full-time author-entrepreneur, I would get up at 5am and write, then go to work. After the day job, I would come home and get on with building my online business. We got rid of the TV so I would have more time to create, and I spent every weekend working. I was so focused on leaving my job that I cut out everything that got in the way. I was driven to schedule my time incredibly well in order to fit everything in.
Now, as a full-time publisher and community relations manager, I still have to schedule everything. I blog, podcast and speak professionally, as well as writing books. It’s still hard to get everything done, let me assure you!
So I’ll admit to being a chronic scheduler! But seriously, it is the only way I get anything done.
I use Google Calendar schedule my time. It doesn't matter whether you use an old school paper system or the latest app, but you have to schedule your writing time! I write down blocks of time for writing, speaking prep and delivery, for podcasts, recording audio and other phone meetings.
I block out time for writing, speaking engagements, for podcasts, recording audio and other phone meetings.
(I never answer the phone unless a meeting is scheduled!)
Of course, I have slots for personal time with my husband or family trips, medical stuff, friends and ‘real life,’ and of course, sometimes I get things wrong. But overall, I rely on this kind of scheduling to get everything done.
After all, you schedule time for your kids' play dates, meetings at work, and your yoga class – so why not schedule your writing time? How important is it to you?
(2) Reward yourselfThose of you with children may have used behavior charts, where they get a star or a sticker every time something good is achieved. Rewards for good behavior can actually work really well!
Well, that’s what I do for myself these days!
I have a wall calendar on which I write my word count or pages edited every day and I get a sticker if I go over 2000 words. It’s just a paper calendar – nothing fancy – but seriously, it works!
(3) Become accountable
This blog has kept me accountable since I started writing it in Dec 2015. Every year, I have posted my goals and what I’ve achieved.
Then I have an accountability partner who has a completely separate kind of business, and we challenge each other on content like the blog, as well as overall financial goals. We even have a competition now, where the loser has to pay for a spa day – now that’s motivating!
I also have a coach who I have calls with several times a year, when I want to take things to another level.
Time goes by so fast that if you don’t schedule these kind of check-points into your life, you won’t achieve anything.
(4) Set deadlinesIf you sign a traditional publishing deal, you will have a timeline for your drafts, revisions and then for publication. You know what you have to do by when.
If you are going the indie route, you need to set these for yourself.
When I wrote my first book, I set a deadline for my birthday. I wanted to hold my book in my hand on a specific date. I made it by a month later, but having that date in mind helped a LOT for getting things done.
Since then, I have speeded up the process somewhat, but I still set rough deadlines. On my wall I have one page A4 that has the priorities for each month roughly planned out.
For example, one particular month has:
- Publish Give Your Intentions some Attention in ebook and print
- Finish first draft and edit Writer’s Boot camp. Send JVP documents to cities by end of Dec
- Finalize workshop road show & map.
- Start pre-production on Strive 2019 with authors.
(5) Spend more hours in the chairWe all know what we have to do. It’s simple but it’s not easy. Like diet and exercise.
More hours in the chair actually spent WRITING will produce more words on the page.Dean Wesley Smith is one of the most prolific writers out there, but he points out that he doesn’t do anything spectacular in terms of word count per hour. What he does is spend more hours in the chair, and he does it every day.
This relates to point 1 – you need to schedule the time, and then you actually need to get it done. Get black on white.
I like to write in cafes and if you find a quiet one, they are usually happy to let you sit as long as you buy a coffee every hour. I put on my BOSE noise-cancelling headphones – which are amazing! – and play Rain & Thunderstorms on repeat. Then I write and I don't get up until my allotted time for writing is complete.
BONUS (6) Decide what you really want.Perhaps this is the most important thing.
At the end of the day, we all have 24 hours in the day. We all have people we love, that we want to spend time with. We all need to pay the bills. We all need to eat and exercise, and clean and do chores and see friends … and … and …
But you get what you focus on in life.If you really want to write that book, you will make the time.
If you want to prove that you can finish a manuscript, you will make the time.
If you want to be a full-time author and make a living with your writing, you will have to make the time.