Friday, July 30, 2010

Step Two - Finding the Time For Writing Your Novel

So you’ve fired all your distractions before starting a new novel. Now it’s time to actually write one. As with any great crime against nature, being successful takes both motive and opportunity. Why a writer does what they do varies based on the author. In the interest of space, let’s leave it at the writer actually wants to write a novel and move on to opportunity.

The most important component in opportunity is time. Writing can be done almost anywhere, but it takes time. Lots of it. Some novels are written piecemeal over years, others happen in bursts. The first draft of Fahrenheit 451 took Ray Bradbury 10 days, while Tom Wolfe spent more than 5 years working on a draft of Man in Full. It’s likely your project will fall somewhere in between the two.

More than ninety percent of writers have day jobs, thus their most creative efforts are relegated to hours either before or after work. Take away the commute, cooking, eating, bathing and some basic (but necessary) chores and there’s probably two free hours left. Perhaps this block is contiguous, perhaps not. It might mean getting up early for one hour before work, and then one hour after. Whatever the configuration, that sliver provides more than enough opportunity to get the project rolling.

A focused writer can get a lot of writing done in two hours a day, five sessions a week. Over the course of a month, those “tiny” increments will probably equal the amount of work done in one week at the day job. Toss in a full day session on Saturdays or Sundays, and that’s nearly two writing weeks for every four weeks dealing with the Boss man.

Keep that pace up for seven months and that’s more than 500 hours at the keyboard. Now that’s a decent amount. Especially since most professional novelists who only answer to an editor, rarely log more than five hours of writing per day. James Patterson spent years working at a marketing firm—long after a string of mega bestsellers—writing just two hours every weeknight. It can be done. So, what are you waiting for? Get started!

by Sam Hilliard, author of The Last Track

*excerpt from a guest blog on Life in the First Draft. To read more, go to:

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