When to Write...

You have a great idea for a novel.
And you've completed your outline.

Now, you ask, "When is my Ideal Time to Write?"

This question is triple-barrelled because to fully answer it, Scheduling, Habit formation as well as Fear must be managed.

Before we tackle all of the above, its best to locate one's Optimal Time to Create. This magic moment is first gleaned by putting your life under a microscope and examining each hour of it for at least the next two weeks to see when it is you're doing Have-To's; sleeping, working your day job, eating, doing errands/chores, care-giving/child-minding, etc.

Then, after you have mapped out those activities, examine what is left of your Free Time, and see what you've been doing with it; watching TV, playing games, reading, mall shopping, socializing etc.

Now, decide which of those Free Time moments you are willing to give up until you've completed your novel.

In life, rich or poor, young or old, we all only have 24 hours in a day, and after the Have-To's of our lives have been completed, there's very little time left to take on a task that demands a certain amount of our free time in order for it to be achieved, and that goes doubly for the hard work and focus required in writing a novel.

As well, writers are human like everyone else, and exhaustion/sickness/family emergencies can foil one's best laid plans, so buffers have to be put in place to allow for those uncontrollable moments. In order to do that, you formulate a fairly consistent writing schedule while you are alert and healthy so your writing progress can be well ahead in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Your final examination is to figure out at what time of the day you do have Free Time, that you are also awake, healthy and alert!

If, for example, that is the two hours per day you play a video game, that is the activity you'll need to delete in favour of writing. Or, say, decide to cut that time in half - one hour each - gaming and writing.

New writers always assume that a massive chunk of time is needed for each sit-down to be able to write a novel, when the opposite is really true. An hour each day, or even every other day, if you can't squeeze out a daily routine, will soon add up to an 80 grand word count, especially if you've already completed a solid outline.

Novel writing is not, I repeat, not a sprint; it's a marathon, and if you bite off a mile here, a 100 yards there, you'll reach The Finish Line like everyone else.

For practical purposes, I suggest you draw up a daily grid-sheet and write in what you are doing in each of those 24 hour slots. Complete at least 14 days of these grids so you can see a pattern form that encompasses; Free Time + Alertness. Its those hours that = Your Ideal Time to Write.

Once you've found your Ideal Time to Write, now you must train your mind into making writing within that slot a Habit.

On average, it takes 6 weeks to make an activity an ingrained habit, so for the next 6 weeks straight, you must sit down to write in that one hour slot...without skipping!

I know, it's a daunting task, but like with exercise or any other worthwhile task, discipline and the hunger to succeed must play a part. After those 6 weeks, your mind and body will instinctively go to that task, no longer looking at it as a chore; more so, as natural and easy as eating or having a shower.

In the next post, I'll examine the leftover quotient: Fear. It's a doozy but you can overcome it, I'll show you the way!

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