Completing a book: The Time, the Space, and the Goal
It seems to me that most people have no shortage of ideas for a new book. Ask your friends. You’ll find many are mid some kind of novel, memoir, or business book. However, throughout the years, I’ve noticed that many people start a project, but most have trouble completing a book.
If you were to sneak a peek at the average laptop, I’d bet you’d find books in various stages of development. You might discover a completed outline for a business book, but no first draft. Or you could uncover fifty pages of a sci-fi novel dated over a year ago. Maybe you’d see detailed notes of various interviews of family members, but no memoir begun.
So, why do writers tend to push off working on their great ideas? The solution could be as simple as solving these three main problems:
Carve out the time
If you’re new to writing and it’s a hobby, I suggest that you establish a regular time to write, so you can go about completing a book. Even if you hire me as a ghostwriter, you will need to set aside this time to help me gather notes or review pages that I’ve written for you.
Find a time of day when you know you won’t be disturbed. You might like to get up a little early each day and write as the sun comes up, while enjoying a good cup of coffee. That’s my favorite time. Or you might set aside time at night, when the kids are asleep (before your eyes droop). That’s a good time to tap away on your keyboard with a nice cup of Chamomile tea.
Either way, make sure to write something, anything, every single day.
TIP: If you skip a day, don’t beat yourself up and stop. Just start again the next day. The most important thing is to continue writing.
Find a good space
Unless you’re one of the few people who thrives on chaos, you’ll want to have a dedicated writing nook. Somewhere around your home, where you can’t be disturbed, would be most convenient. If you can swing it, select a room with a door. Some people hang a sign out letting others know that they shouldn’t be disturbed.
I know a few writers who head for their library or Starbucks to get some peace and quiet. Others opt for the great outdoors, and they don’t even mind the occasional visits from beetles and spiders. It really doesn’t matter where you set up, as long as you can write without distraction.
TIP: Try out a few places and see which one works best for you.
Set doable goals
Finally, it is important to set regular goals for yourself. Professional writers always think in terms of words, not pages, because pages can be misleading. They’re too dependent on the font you use. Now, if you’re in research mode, time is really the only realistic yardstick.
It’s hard for me to give examples here, because the word-count target will really vary from project to project. Sometimes I can write ten thousand words per week, but that’s because I’ve done months of research (or I know the topic very well). Other times I’m happy to get two thousand words done by Friday.
Whatever your goal, set it ahead of time, and then do your best to reach it. The ultimate target is completing a book.
TIP: If you find you want to take a lot of breaks, that usually signals a problem. Maybe you don’t know which way to go in the story or you need to do more research. I have found that operating off a good, solid outline helps, because it keeps me on track.
Now that you know the three main solutions, you can set aside the time, find the right place, and reach the writing session goal you set each day. One of your first goals should be a finished first draft. Remember, it can be revised at a later date, so don’t worry about perfection. It takes hard work to write your book, but the rewards are well worth it.