As I look around my office the argument could be made I’ve robbed a bookstore or at least was about to open one. There are all descriptions of books literally cascading from the shelves. The Nook has started storing the overflow.
These books range from novella to epic novel and all lengths in between.
Sometimes for motivation I stare at these books and think of the time put into each one. The countless hours required crafting the stories and tales in my office is immeasurable.
However each and every book in my possession, down to and including my own, started with a single letter on a blank page. Even before that each book likely began with an “Ah Ha” moment when it all came together for the writer.
Unfortunately I’ve had several “Ah Ha” moments since I finished my last book.
Fortunately one idea is a bona fide work in progress, but I’ve quickly realized that grandiose plans can sometimes be too much.
Put simply, grand plans a finished book do not make.
I’ve talked to a number of would be writers about their great ideas, but alas, it doesn’t appear these ideas will ever be anything more than just that – good ideas.
There has been much written on how to motivate ones self to write. There are scores of programs, how to books, seminars, websites and even iPhone apps which are designed to motivate. I’ve found a great many of these tools useful, but at the end of the day, they will not make characters magically appear on the page.
Let’s talk about weight loss for a moment.
I equate starting writing to beginning weight loss. If you drop a great deal of weight in a short time, you feel great, but statistically that weight is going to come back. If you pump up your normal word output the product likely won’t be there.
The net result in each situation? Initially you feel great, but end up where you started only to feel worse than before with no progress.
If you want to keep the pounds off, slow and steady beats the quick each and every time. From what I understand 1-2 pounds a week has the best chance of achieving lasting weight loss. The same is true with your writing.
I’ve started to apply the same principal to my writing in an approach I call the bite size novel. It only requires two things.
Write 5 days out of 7; and, write 1 to 2 pages per day.
Watch the math.
My first novel came in at 100,000 words. Let’s say I’d written 1.5 pages, with a page being 700 words, per day. That is 1050 words per day.
To reach 100,000 words, I would need 95 days. Let’s also say that I write 4 days a week or 18 days out of an average 30-day month. Based on this schedule I would go from the first character to completion in just over 5 months – yes, two books a year. If you write more frequently just adjust the formula to see how quickly you can have your novel done. Spoiler – Write seven days and week and you have a novel in just over 3 months.
This approach also builds in the idea of self-motivation in that if you start seeing progress, the progress will manifest into increased motivation.
I am certainly not the first to realize this - really it’s basically common sense.
But I am happy to point it out.
So I say this. If you are struggling to get going on the book you have long thought on, try this approach for a month and if it doesn’t produce results, contact me and I’ll help you brainstorm some ideas to kick start your novel.
Causes sean keefer Supports
I support the Charleston Animal Society, Pet Helpers of Charleston and the Lowcountry Food Bank. See seankeefer.com for links.