Six months? Impossible, right? No. Nothing’s impossible if you’re willing to work for it. So ask yourself: how bad do you want it?
If you’ve noticed I’ve been MIA recently, it’s because I’m currently writing a novel in six months, and that’s on top of a full-time job that keeps me away from home for ten days at a time.
Even with your job, and your family, and your desire to maintain your sanity, you can do it too. Here’s how:
Don’t waste time. I am a firm believer in outlines. It will save you time on editing later.
Don’t worry pantsers. Keep your fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants creativity. This doesn’t have to be a chapter by chapter breakdown, but make sure you have a solid plan. Know where your story really starts and where it needs to go, both with your plot development and character development. These are big things that can’t be easily fixed after you’ve finished your first draft.
Plan your work day
Where do you work? I’ve personally started renting an office space. However, this doesn’t have to cost you anything. Where do you work best? A place that stimulates you like a Starbucks? Or somewhere devoid of any distractions such as a quiet room in your basement? Find a designated area that works for you and your situation. After a while, your brain will be trained to automatically shift into writing mode the moment you sit down there.
When do you work? You might be a morning person or prefer to pull all nighters. Maybe you need scheduled breaks. I’m personally a marathoner. Try different tactics. What works might surprise you.
Set alarms and actually organize your day into blocks of time. It’s easy to get distracted by laundry, shopping, e-mails, etc. Sure, some things just need to get done, but write a list and prioritize your errands so that you can get to what’s really important – writing. For myself, the best tactic is to begin my day with writing before I even put a brush to my hair. I can’t get distracted by errands if I haven’t even left my pyjamas!
Set due dates
We’re not talking about a first draft in six months. We’re talking about a completed novel. That means critique partners (at least one), major revisions (we know how endless that can be), and proofreading. You need to give your critique partners time to read your manuscript and get back to you, and then you need time to revise based on their feedback. That will leave you with less than four months to complete a readable version of your novel. Get yourself a calendar and a big red pen to write your due dates.
I didn’t work my butt off for seven years to drop the ball now. What about you? If writing is really your passion, then prove it. It will come down to some tough choices, big things like a vacation vs writing. Or it might be the small things.
I’ve replaced driving to the gym with running around my neighbourhood, my meals are simple and quick, I haven’t knitted a stitch in months, and my vacation this year turned into a workation. My family has even forgotten what I look like. Don’t worry. You can still say I love you by text and phone… or blog – Hi (waves enthusiastically). Miss you guys!
Make your breaks count
You need to take breaks or you will go crazy. Work too hard and you’ll lose your focus and your momentum. Sometimes a break is just what the doctor ordered. Just make sure you take the right cure. Do what inspires you to write and what will help you to find the energy to carry on until your next break. But don’t overdose!
Is it enough?
Is there anything you can add? What do you do to keep yourself going? Do you think this is extreme? It’s not. This is your dream. Your passion. If you want to write a novel in 6 months, then you must be pretty serious. That means it’s not just a hobby.
Life is what you make it, so ask yourself: how long are you willing to wait for your dreams to come true?