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    « Publishing a Book: People Will Judge It By Its Cover | Main | Writing a Memoir: The Search for Meaning »

    Writing a Book: Plan Your Writing Time

    Life can get in the way of getting your book written. If you are working at a day job and your writing is a spare time project, that spare time may be hard to find. If you have a family to take care of it may be hard to control your schedule to give yourself the time you would like to write. What’s the best way to manage the limited periods of time you have available to get your book written?

    Courtesy of Casey Martin under Creative Commons

    First, schedule a regular time that you will work on your book. It doesn’t have to be a long block of several hours. Getting up an hour early to give yourself some time to work on your book or blocking out an hour at night after the kids are off to bed is fine. What’s important is consistency. If you are writing, even for a short time, on a regular basis you maintain your momentum. Your subconscious mind is always processing your draft. That way the next time you sit down at your desk you won’t have to spend a lot of time looking backwards to recapture what you were thinking during your previous writing session.

    What’s the best way to use these blocks of time you have carved out? One is to simply jump into the book and start writing. Anne Lamott described it in her book Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. She devotes a chapter to Shitty First Drafts. “All good writers write them. This is how they wind up will good second drafts and terrific third drafts.” In this school of thought just pushing ahead and getting your story down on paper is the most important thing. You can fix it later during the revision process.

    A second approach is based on the idea that when writing in short segments you may not produce your best work. Jumping in and out of the book may prevent you from writing with a consistent tone. Divide the tasks you face into the more mechanical and the more creative. Mechanical tasks might include organizing your research, planning the scenes and doing the prep work that will make the times you are doing your more creative writing more productive. You might use that mechanical time to think through the details of a setting, plan a scene, experiment with the dialogue the scene will contain, doing small research projects like gathering details on a particular ancestor in a family history, or even scanning and organizing photos for an illustrated book.

    Courtesy of Courtney Dirks under Creative Commons

    Schedule some longer blocks of time for your more creative work. It’s best if these are at least two hours. Use them to draft the scenes of you book. You can quickly review the prep work you’ve done and the most recent part of your draft and pick up right where you left off. In these longer more focused periods you will find that ideas will start to flow .you’ll write faster, and start having fun. I have found that it is much easier to block out a period of time and get lost in the work.

    Which approach to writing time is better? That’s up to you. You can try both and see which works best. The one thing that is important is that you block out regular writing time whichever way you choose to use it. Consistency is the key to production. Trying to write when you find that you have time won’t give it to you. You need to make regular writing time a commitment. When you do you’ll be surprised how much more quickly your writing goes and how much better the quality of what you produce will become.

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