There’s something so exciting about writing a novel--and if you’re committed to doing it in just one year, it’s even more exciting! Many people aren’t up for such a challenge, but you know it can be done. After all, writers like Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King are always producing new work. And you’ve always been the kind of person who went above and beyond with your schoolwork, and when it comes to actual work, you seem to get projects finished before any of your colleagues. As a lover of literature and writing, you think you’re ready.
But you’re worried about keeping up your productivity. What do you do if you get burnt out? How do you create a schedule that works for you? Luckily, it’s all about using the right strategies--and here they are.
1 Get away from it all
If you’re going to change your life and write a novel, it’s probably a good idea to start a whole new kind of lifestyle. If you’re lucky, that means getting away from your busy life, leaving your job and unpacking your things in a cabin in the woods Walden-style or a lighthouse by the sea. Maybe you’ve even gotten a writing residency. But even if you don’t have an escape up to that level, it is time to make such a big change that your old life is unrecognizable.
Don’t stop seeing your friends completely, but let them know that you’ll be less available than you used to. If there are big projects available at work, and it doesn’t endanger your job to say no, tell your boss that you want to keep things as they are now. If you’re able to get some remote work, do that, too. The time you save on your commute to write will be worth it. Considering that telecommuting workers have increased 115 percent in only one decade, your boss might say yes.
2 Detox from social media
When we say “get away from it all” above, we don’t just mean getting physically away and clearing your schedule for more time to write. Another huge time suck that you might not even notice affecting your ability to write is your need for attention on social media. We live in an age of excess information, and even though that means almost anyone can make money by using apps like Instagram intelligently, it can also mean that you’re distracting yourself from what matters.
If you’re the kind of person who wakes up and checks social media first thing in the morning, you might be addicted. If you find yourself scrolling through Facebook and you’ve suddenly gone a year back into your life, that’s a sign, too. Even if you don’t have a serious problem, think about how much time you could be writing instead. So set a time limit on how often you check social media and your favorite online entertainment. Think about it: in 2017 only, Netflix users collectively watched 1 billion hours of content in one week. That’s a lot of lost time!
3 Create an effective schedule
Now that you’ve cleared time in your life for writing your novel, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of it and start writing. But if you’re constantly churning out content, that isn’t going to be super useful, because you’ll get burnt out. Instead, commit to a certain number of pages or words a week (hours won’t do when it’s such a tight deadline of a year). Then spread that out over a week, with at least one day off where you don’t think about your novel. That way, you can subconsciously process it.
Every once in a while, give yourself a week of vacation. Just like with regular work, you need time off. You can make $8,000 a month writing romance novels, but if you don’t give yourself time to relax, you’re going to be sapped of energy, and you’ll crash and burn halfway through!
4 Make yourself accountable
Finally, it’s important to hold yourself accountable. Considering that writing is such a solitary act, it’s a good idea to partner up with someone. Write together at cafes, or even better--join a writing class. There are writing classes and workshops everywhere, both in writing centers and in local libraries.
In 2018, federal funding for public libraries increased, with $27 million restored to the national literacy program. So you’re likely to find some great options there now that they’ve got available funds for hosting writing groups! Additionally, an MFA program or a novel writing program like the ones with Faber and Curtis Brown Creative in London are options. It’s all about knowing what will work best for you.
These are some of the best ways to stay productive if you plan to write a novel in just one year. What other strategies do you think would work?