Allow me to begin this post with a few timeless proverbs:
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” (Laozi, philosopher)
“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” (Creighton Abrams, general)
“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying small stones.” (Chinese proverb)
“How do you write a novel? One word at a time.” (Me, but somebody else probably said it first.)
I recently started a job that takes up a lot of my time, usually a normal workday plus two to four hours. It’s a good job in most respects, and glad to have it, but it does eat into my leisure time.
Time I might ordinarily spend writing.
Too often, people stop writing or don’t write at all because they believe they have to devote large chunks at a time to the pursuit. I know this, because I was one of those people for a long time. Then, somehow, I discovered the magic of small steps.
When I started my novel, I had to manage my time, so I set aside one hour a day, Monday through Friday. It took a while, but now my first novel is finished and I’m shopping it to agents. I have also started my second.
That second novel is going to be written under even greater time constraints than the first one was. I’ve had to cut down to one page a day, about 300 words, which takes me about 30 minutes to write. If I keep up at this pace, I can have a good 300 pages done in a year, maybe more (maybe less, but I hope not).
I had a brief Twitter conversation with a lady a while back who told me she made time for writing by always having the project with her and writing in tiny spaces of open time, like when she was stopped at a traffic light. Wow. Talk about small steps.
Don’t hang around waiting for those big chunks of time. They might never do so. Write a page a day, 10 minutes a day, a sentence a day. Get your novel written one word at a time.