Okay, if you read my earlier post about writing a novel this summer and decided you want to play along, you’ve probably started wondering how it’s possible that you can actually write a whole novel this summer. You want to believe, but somehow it still seems impossible that you could actually have completed a first draft of your magnum opus before Labor Day rolls around.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you can do it!
I’m not going to lie to you — this little summer project of ours will be a lot of work but maybe not in the ways you’re expecting. Getting this done mostly consists of deciding to do it and making a clear plan that will help you achieve your goal.
Let’s start with deciding to do it, making the commitment to write a novel. Right now, take out a note card or a piece of paper and write on it, “I promise to write for least 15 minutes a day, every day from now until my novel is finished.”
Yes, I really want you to physically write this down. Do it now.
This is just one of many practices of “magical thinking” that I encourage you to employ. I’ll share a few more of these later on, but for now just post that written commitment on your fridge or your bathroom mirror. You want to see it every day!
Making a fifteen-minute a day commitment works. This works for writing but it also works for other things. In fact, this is how I learned to play the guitar. Granted, I’m not Richard Thompson or anything (insert the name of your own guitar god here). However, I can play well enough for campfires, house parties and the occasional wedding or funeral, which is pretty much what I wanted to accomplish.
The trick, of course, is that once you warm to your task, on a lot of days you won’t actually stop after fifteen minutes. When you’re on a roll, you won’t be able to stop. But to get there, you have to get into the writing habit. Habits both good and bad come from doing something every day. With even a very small time commitment, you can turn writing (or whatever) into a daily habit. It just becomes something that you do. So make that commitment now.
Once you’ve made your commitment to writing (in writing) and developed a plan of where and how to do your writing. Yes, doing your writing at the same time or times every day helps. I recommend for you to choose a time slot that allows for routine. Maybe you write during lunch break from work. Maybe you write after dinner and before you turn on the TV. Maybe you set the alarm for a half-hour earlier and write first thing in the morning while the first pot of coffee brews. Whatever time you pick, always have your tools at the ready and make sure that time remains sacred. Don’t let yourself get distracted with reading the morning news or browsing on Facebook or playing some game on your phone. I’ll admit that Wordfeud is my own addictive distraction, so I have to set my phone on silent and put it in the other room when I want to write. Whatever your own favorite distraction might be, you need to guard against it during your dedicated writing time. So, part of your commitment involves setting those other things aside while you concentrate on your writing.
Committed? Excellent. You’ve taken the first major step toward success.