Most of my friends and family know I’m a writer, but whenever I’d say ‘I’m going to publish a novel‘ they’d look at me the same way you look at the fat guy who says he’s going to lose weight (I know, because at one point I was the fat guy). They give polite smiles and enthusiastic nods, but no one really expects too much.
Who can blame them? Anyone can call themselves a writer and very few ever finish anything. I fell into that category for a lot of years.
After the book came out the biggest question I received was where do I find the time? Don’t I have a day job? I do as a matter of fact. I write software for the best startup in the world, which is by far the most demanding career I’ve ever had (and I’ve had several).
I work ten to twelve hours on weekdays and an hour or two on Saturday and Sundays. Last year at crunch time I worked on Christmas and had a three month block where I worked at least eight hours every single day. It was a brutal marathon, and it was absolutely worth it the first time I saw someone using the app I’d written.
During this same stretch I wrote the bulk of the sequel to No Such Thing As Werewolves. I cranked out 90,000 words in that three months. People gawk at me when they hear that. How did I work as hard as I did on software and still find time to write?
The answer isn’t sexy, but it is something anyone can do. I get up at the ass crack of dawn every day. From 5am to 6am I work out and while doing so I think about what I’m going to write. Then I go home and write it.
I belt out two thousand words of fiction, which typically takes about forty-five minutes. The last fifteen minutes is spent marketing, or writing blog posts like this one. That’s it. There’s my secret.
It doesn’t sound like much, but that’s 700,000 words a year and I’m done writing it each day right around the time most people are waking up. There is a cost of course. I don’t go out to parties, because I’m in bed by 10pm every night. 9:30 on a lot of nights.
This paradigm has worked for many novelists and it will work for you too. The trick is to create a habit, a sacred space where you do nothing but write. By setting it early you can do it before the husband or kids get up. You can do it before you have to start thinking about email, or errands.
Grant yourself that hour every day. Do it diligently. In a year you’ll be looking back at your first novel.