Whether you’re an aspiring novelist, a budding journalist, or just someone who is looking to express themselves through words, having a well-thought-out writing plan is crucial. Many clients reach out to me throughout the week asking for help. They are mid a book project and just aren’t making progress. Of course, if you’d like to hire a ghostwriter to assist you, I’m here for you. Let’s chat!
However, if you know you want to write the book yourself, I get it. It’s admirable! Let’s come up with a writing plan to help you complete your goal.
Time and Place
Finding the Time
One of the initial challenges many writers encounter is finding the time to dedicate to their craft. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it can be hard to make the time. To overcome this hurdle, start by conducting a thorough analysis of your daily routine. Identify pockets of time that could be repurposed for writing. This might entail waking up an hour earlier, utilizing lunch breaks, or setting aside a few evenings each week.
Consistency is paramount. Writing once a week doesn’t work. You will get lost. Writing daily is ideal but might not work out for you. If you touch your manuscript at least every other day, it will still be fresh enough in your mind to propel you forward.
Once you’ve identified your writing schedule, make it a non-negotiable appointment with your creative self. Don’t allow yourself to postpone it or prioritize other activities over this time. Establishing a routine will help you enter a writing mindset during these designated periods.
Finding a Good Spot to Write
Your writing environment significantly influences your productivity and creative output. It’s crucial to find a space that fosters concentration and minimizes distractions. This could be a cozy corner at home, a local library, or a quiet cafe. Experiment with different settings to discover where you feel most inspired and focused.
Consider the tools you need for your writing venture. Whether it’s a trusty notebook and pen or a high-tech laptop, ensure your chosen spot accommodates your preferred writing medium. Eliminate clutter and create a space that invites creativity and ignites your imagination.
Identifying and Overcoming Distractions
Distractions are the arch-nemesis of any writer. The siren call of social media, household chores, and unexpected interruptions can derail your writing flow. It’s essential to recognize potential distractions and develop strategies to mitigate them effectively.
Turn off Notifications. That’s one of the first pieces of advice I can offer. The constant barrage of dings, buzzes, and beeps really harms one’s ability to concentrate. During dedicated writing sessions, put on the Do Not Disturb feature, and resist the urge to check social media updates. It kills your writing plan if you’re checking out the latest cute kitty video on Facebook or replying to emails from Mom.
Now, if the allure of social media or other websites is too tempting, consider using website blockers. These tools allow you to temporarily restrict access to distracting sites during your writing hours, helping you stay focused and on track. I know that’s a bit extreme, but if you have trouble, it’s an option.
Once you have a dedicated writing space, inform those around you about your writing hours. Get them on Team Writer and request their cooperation in minimizing interruptions during these times. While it’s true that your Boston Terrier might not comply, other family members might agree to distract him during those times.
Noise-canceling headphones can be a godsend if your environment is inherently noisy. These help create a bubble of concentration, which is what you require. Having said that, some people enjoy listening to music as they write. That’s completely fine if it works well for you. Check to see how productive you are with and without music and decide accordingly.
Finally, it’s OK to take a break as long as it serves a purpose. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media, use your breaks to stretch, take a short walk, or engage in activities that refresh your mind without pulling you into a distracting digital abyss.
Exercise Can Help
Physical activity has been proven to boost cognitive function and creativity. Plus it can be a bit much to stare at a screen all day. Consider incorporating short bouts of exercise into your routine, whether it’s a quick walk, stretching exercises, or a workout at the gym. These breaks can reenergize your mind and help you focus during the time you have set aside to write.
Some people find it helpful to develop a pre-writing routine. It can signal the transition from everyday activities to focused writing. This could include a brief exercise routine, listening to calming music, or spending a little time with nature.
Community and Accountability
If you are the kind of person who needs a community, consider joining a writing group. You can engage with writing communities either online or in person. Also, look for writer’s conventions. Publishers and agents attend, which means you might get to pick their brains. There’s nothing like sharing a cup of coffee with someone who knows the ins and outs of the industry.
Sharing your writing goals and progress with a community provides more motivation to continue forward when other distractions threaten to get in your way. Knowing that others are pursuing similar objectives can help you stay committed to your writing plan.
Additionally, many writers seek out a compatible accountability partner. Try pairing up with a writing buddy who shares similar goals. Regular check-ins and discussions about your writing progress can create a supportive environment and help you stay on track. Mutual encouragement and feedback can be invaluable in overcoming obstacles.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to keep learning and growing as a writer. This means you should read books about how to write, and also read books within the genre you wish to write. Yes, this is another investment of time, but it is worth it!
Setting Goals and Milestones
Goal-setting is a fundamental aspect of any writing plan. I’d suggest you start with an overall goal, a deadline for completing your book. Then logically break that into smaller chunks and build milestones for yourself.
For instance, if you wish to write your book in the next eight months, that’s realistic. Don’t set a target you can never make. Once you have that in mind, give yourself time to create the outline. Maybe a month or two? Then give yourself a timeline for finishing the first draft. Four months is a good plan. Then you’ll have time to edit.
Now that you know you have four months to write the first draft, set daily word-count goals. For instance, if you plan to write every day for one hour, break up the time into daily targets. That would work out to about 500 words per day (for four months). That’s reasonable.
The bottom line is, you need to create a timeline that aligns with your schedule and allows for flexibility. Be sure to celebrate each achievement, reinforcing your commitment to your writing plan.
Finish Your First Draft—Don’t Edit Yet
One common pitfall for writers is the compulsion to edit as they write. While it’s natural to strive for perfection, constant self-editing can stifle creativity and impede progress. Embrace the concept of the “rough draft” and focus on getting your ideas down on paper. Some writing mentors would advocate just writing the draft without a thought to chapters. The idea is to get words on paper and THEN you can edit.
How you write your first draft is really up to you. It’s OK to reread what you wrote in the previous section to get oriented, but don’t allow yourself to “fix” anything. Do you know that some new writers get stuck in an endless Ground Hog’s Day, editing the same piece over and over for weeks or months? No wonder they quit and decide writing isn’t for them. Don’t do that. Just allow yourself to write the first draft. It won’t be perfect. That’s OK!
Seeking Outside Help
Writing is often a solitary endeavor, but seeking outside assistance can significantly enhance the quality of your work. Depending on your specific needs, consider the following options:
Hire a Ghostwriter
People often come to me when they have a great idea for a story, but have no idea how to execute it. Or they have a partially completed manuscript but know it’s not quite there. A ghostwriter can help you find the words and structure to share your story. If you’re struggling and need a little help, consider calling this Friendly Ghostwriter.
A ghostwriter runs anywhere from fifty cents to two dollars per word (or more). I charge one dollar per word, so the average book project runs about $50,000. If you have a decent first draft, my price goes down.
Hire a Writing Consultant
A writing consultant provides valuable feedback and guidance throughout your writing journey. They can offer constructive criticism, suggest improvements, and help you navigate challenges, acting as a supportive partner in your creative process.
When you want to write the book yourself, but don’t know how, it’s time to reach out to a writing coach or consultant. I charge $145 per hour and have multiple packages designed to help you reach your writing goals.
Hire an Editor
Once your manuscript is complete, an editor plays a crucial role in refining your work. They address grammatical errors, improve overall flow, and provide a fresh perspective on your writing. If you need a bit more help, turn to a consultant or a ghostwriter. An editor can’t rewrite your manuscript for you. They will just point you in the right direction.
Creating a writing plan is an essential step toward achieving your literary goals. By dedicating time, choosing the right environment, overcoming distractions, setting achievable goals, avoiding premature editing, and seeking outside help when necessary, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the writing process successfully. Remember, every word written is a step closer to realizing your creative aspirations. Happy writing!