When people ask me why I’m such a big advocate of NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month) and fast-drafting, my first answer is simply that I’m so busy. If I did not set stringent goals for myself to prioritize my writing at least a couple of times per year, I don’t think I’d ever finish a book.
So how do you, as a busy writer/parent/spouse/employee/friend actually make your writing a priority? That’s a good question. I have a few thoughts on the subject. Here are five tips for busy writers:
- Admit that writing is your dream and passion. People around you will be much more supportive when you use words like “dream” or “calling” or “passion” than if you simply call it a hobby. In fact, if you call it a hobby, there’s a good chance some people in your life will try to convince you to find a new, less time-sucking hobby.
- Know that busyness usually comes in waves. If you don’t keep your eyes peeled for the crests of the waves, though, it can sometimes feel like the waves just barrel over top of one another. If you’re in a busy season right now, look toward the end of this season. When, realistically, do you expect this busy area of yours to slow down some? Set that as a date to brainstorm story ideas. Write it into your calendar. Book a few hours during the following week to actually write something.
- Try to stay sensible in committing to others and prioritizing commitments. Other people will always think your commitments to them are super-important. But you should ask yourself if these commitments are truly urgent, or are you just taking on someone else’s stress.
- Rather than singing the blues about your lack of writing time, instead work on flexing your brainstorming muscles. Brainstorm character and story ideas when you’re taxiing your kids around, or in the lineup at the grocery store. Keep a notepad with you, or download an app for your phone to keep all these ideas in one place as they come up (I have used and liked A Novel Idea for iPhone). Then you’ll feel like you’re still being creative and somewhat productive, even when there doesn’t seem to be any time to sit down and actually draft or polish a story.
- Don’t do it alone. If you stay accountable to other writer-friends, or follow a plan like that of my new book Fast Fiction, you’ll be much more likely to succeed than if you stay isolated and hope that you’ll find a way to stick with your goals. Plus, any journey is a lot more fun if you’re not completely alone in it.
For more tips on fast-drafting, using time wisely, or for inspirational writing prompts, visit my blog at denisejaden.blogspot.com. And if you have additional suggestions on how to be a productive writer in such a busy world, I’d love to hear them!
Denise Jaden is the author of critically-acclaimed fiction for teens, including Losing Faith and Never Enough. Her nonfiction books for writers include Writing with a Heavy Heart: Using Grief and Loss to Stretch Your Fiction and her newest release, Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Drafting a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days. She lives just outside Vancouver, Canada, where she homeschools her son and dances with a world-renowned Polynesian dance troupe.
Writers flock to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) each November because it provides a procrastination-busting deadline. But only a fraction of the participants meet their goal. Denise Jaden was part of that fraction, writing first drafts of her two published young adult novels during NaNoWriMo. In Fast Fiction, she shows other writers how to do what she did, step-by-step, writer to writer. Her process starts with a prep period for thinking through plot, theme, characters, and setting. Then Jaden provides day-by-day coaching for the thirty-day drafting period. Finally, her revision tips help writers turn merely workable drafts into compelling and publishable novels.
A portion of publisher proceeds will be donated to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Visit www.denisejaden.com for more info.