Part 2b: The Discipline of Writing

Here's the second part of part two:

Fourth: Find time for what you love.

I get that we all live busy lives. Here are some of the most common excuses that keep us from writing a chapter a day:

  1. Day job (or two or three)
  2. Taking care of the family
  3. Just so tired
  4. What’s the point?

Exception: Notice that I’ve left out emergencies of any kind. If someone died, the last thing you should be thinking about is writing. If someone is at the hospital, while you’re waiting and to keep from worrying, maybe you can scribble down a few scenes?   

Let me go back to my weight loss analogy. People who try to lose weight surprisingly have the same excuses as writers do that keep them from getting up and hitting the gym or eating healthy.

My question is: Do you really love writing?

If it’s just a hobby, then maybe writing a chapter a day for 30 days isn’t for you. But, if your day isn’t complete without hitting the keyboard, then you can find time to write. Whether it is waking up an hour earlier or jotting down notes while on the bus or train or begging your loved ones to leave you alone for just a few minutes, you’ll find the time.

Remember when you were a teen and you managed to juggle school, homework, your local bully, and still find time to do whatever it was you were into? Well, writing a chapter a day is like that.

This is where reminding yourself of your commitment comes in. No matter what I say in this workshop, if you’re not committed to the process, you’ll just find yourself frustrated or maybe even disappointed at the end of the month. This is where the person losing weight stops exercising and realizes they’ve gained more weight than they have lost. As in anything in life, if you’re not willing to put in the time, nothing will happen.

Fifth: No matter what, keep going.

Let’s say you’re about halfway through the month, you already have fifteen chapters under your belt and you’re feeling good about yourself. But when you sit down to start writing chapter 16, it’s not working. You’re not feeling the same momentum as you did with the other chapters. The story isn’t flowing properly.

If you don’t feel this at any point in the process then very good, but if you do, you’ll need to start the chapter over again. You’ll know by the third or fourth page if and when a scene is not working. As painful as it is, hit the delete button and walk away from your computer. This is a sign you need a quick break.

Quick tip: Walk for a bit. Maybe take a shower. I do all my good thinking in the shower. Then start over.

Remember: Writing isn’t easy.

There will always be roadblocks in your story. And these can be a good thing because they will force you to take different path, maybe one that isn’t on your outline.

I find that when I think I know where the chapter is going on a certain day, by the time I’m done writing, my characters have surprised me. This is an awesome feeling because the story went somewhere I didn’t expect it to go.

You might ask me: What about character development and motivation?

Once you’ve written enough novels, character development and motivation will come naturally because your brain is already hardwired to remember these two things. I mentioned them because I struggle with character development and motivation the most. Keep in mind these can be fixed during the editing process. They are not something you need to worry about during your daily chapter routine.

Routine is an important word here because at some point, usually by the 21st day, you’ll find that you have developed a routine you can stick with. Don’t even stop for weekends. Just keep going. You’ll be surprised at how fast a month goes by.

Sixth: Try not to read anything while you’re writing.

This is probably one of the hardest things to suggest because all writers are readers. When I was first developing the method of writing a chapter a day, I realized that if I wasn’t reading I was able to focus more on my writing. The reason for this is reading brings in outside influences into your writing.

Example: I was reading The Hunger Games right around the time I was editing Taste. The Hunger Games is written in the first person present tense while Taste is in the first person past tense. I was so into The Hunger Games that I started noticing the tenses in Taste were changing from past to present. Talk about outside influences.

You’ll be busy enough with everything else in your life. Closing a book while you’re writing is just more time you’re giving yourself inside your writing cave.

Okay, I hear the uproar. I know you can’t possibly stop reading while writing. But give it a try. One month of no reading while you write your story and see the difference.

Let’s recap, shall we:

  1. Write a chapter a day.
à Start at the beginning of the month
à Build the routine
à Gain the momentum

  1. Let the story flow.
à Don’t reread chapters you’ve already written
à Keep thinking of what happens next

  1. Don’t worry about editing.
à There will be more than enough time to edit and rewrite your scenes
à Your aim is to get the story onto paper so you have something to work with later

  1. Find time for what you love.
à Whether it’s a couple of hours a day or squeezing writing time in no matter where you are, get the chapter done
à Don’t let excuses keep you from doing what you love
à Writing isn’t just a hobby for you

  1. No matter what, keep going.
à Don’t be afraid to start a chapter again if it’s not feeling right
à You can do it
à Worry about character development and motivation later

  1. Try not to read during the whole month you’re writing.
à It really does make a huge difference

And the last, most important thing? Don’t over think things.

Alright, it’s questions time. Leave them in the comment’s section and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. :)      

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