We claim or create a space dedicated to getting the words out and onto the page.
We schedule in time every day (preferably) to write.
We put our butts in the chair.
And we write.
It’s a simple as that.
There’s no magic formula to becoming a writer.
If you are writing regularly, you are a writer.
The question is whether or not you are truly committed to learning and practicing the craft and not just talking endlessly about wanting to write.
I started this blog to transition from being a photographer who occasionally cranked out a book to becoming a full-time writer who shoots primarily on the weekends.*
Since making that commitment, I put together a schedule that set aside time for daily writing. I also block in time for things like editing, research, business-related social media, and marketing. It took about three weeks to feel like I had found my sweet spot in terms of scheduling. Still, I put my butt in the chair and wrote every day.
I’m happy to say that I have quickly settled into a routine that works well for me. Just as I used to do when I had a day job, I have my morning regimen: I brush my teeth and hair, shower, dress, and check my business email before settling into the home office to write. I don’t recheck email until the evening (after dinner). I generally check social media once a day, often while having lunch. After dinner, I relax and watch a bit of TV or read for a while. Later in the evening, I take care of research, editing, business-related social media, and marketing tasks.
I make adjustments to the schedule when it makes sense to accommodate meetings, vacations, family get-togethers, etc. I take a real day off when I need to (I highly suggest having a life and avoiding burnout).
Just know that — if you commit to a regular writing practice — and crank out whatever daily word count you’ve set for yourself (or time-frame, if you prefer to go that route), in no time, you won’t be able to imagine straying from your writing routine. You’ll amaze yourself with what you can accomplish over time with a bit of focus and discipline.
If your goal, for instance, is to write a book (6×9, roughly 300 words per page), here’s one way to figure out how long it will take, based on word count and the number of days per week you spend writing.
- 45,000 words (150-page, 6×9 book) @ 500 words 3 days per week = roughly 7 months.
- You can cut that time exponentially by upping your daily word count and/or the number of days per week you devote to writing your book.
- Know that this time-frame doesn’t include editing, proofreading, cover design, indexing, etc. Generally, I set the finished first draft down for a week or two, then come back and try to do as much self-editing as possible before sending the manuscript over to a professional editor (if you have a contract with a traditional publisher, you send the manuscript; they take care of the rest).
- The good news is that — while your book is being edited — you can move on to developing your next project. I tend to do research and outline the next project as soon as the one I’m finishing up is off to the publisher (or editor, if you are an indie author).
You’ll find that — as time goes on — you’ll get faster at all phases of a writing project. You’ll become a better writer and be able to up your word count as well. It’s okay to start small and add time or words as you develop a routine that works for you. The most important thing is to get your butt in the chair and WRITE!
* Note: I thought about writing more and shooting mostly to illustrate books, develop a fine-art line, and teach online. I thought about it but never could find (or make) the time to actually make things happen. After taking a year off and spending $20,000+ to convert part of my barn to a home studio, I could not officially open thanks to the first Covid-related shut-down in March 2020.
Schools shut-down in March as well, so I was no longer working with ‘at risk’ school children at Kind (Kids in New Directions). So, suddenly I had a lot of time on my hands (no more excuses). I quickly turned my focus to full-time writing, blogging, publishing, marketing, and — my big goal for 2021 — to launch my first online class.
I also hired a coach to keep me accountable and guide me towards the long list of things to learn and make my ‘Plan B’ career goals a reality. Like having an exercise buddy, working with the right coach can make a huge difference in keeping you laser-focused on learning and developing the skills needed to move your career forward.