I just finished the 1st draft of the book I'm ghostwriting for a client--woo hoo! I actually wrote it in 14 days working 6-8 hours a day.
I haven't read a word of what I've written yet. My goal was just to keep piling up chapters. If you stop to read, Mr. Self-critic shows up and wants to edit everything, and that wasn't the time for it. I wanted to get a complete draft down on paper no matter how messy it was.
So now that I've typed "The End," I can go back and start editing it all. As we say in my writer's group, "It's sooooo much easier to edit than to write," so the difficult part is behind me.
During my days of forced hibernation while I've worked on this project, a friend emailed a book-writing question. I'm posting my answer here in case it will help you write your book.
Am I being realistic when I think I really need to pare down my scheduled responsibilities to leave more room for this writing project? It seems like it doesn’t take much to interrupt the time that I've set aside for pondering and writing, and then it throws me off. What do you do?
Distracted in Kansas City
It's a constant battle not to get distracted and (more for me) not get pulled away by the easier-to-complete tasks. (See my post on hand-washing socks.) There's always one more email, one more website to look at, and that's sooo much more fun than creating something from scratch.
You are being realistic that you have to cut back on something else in order to work on the book. You already have a very busy schedule. It's not like you wake up in the morning wondering what you're going to do that day to fill the hours. To try to fit in something that's not only very time consuming but also very brain- and emotion-consuming is nearly impossible. So dropping something so that you can write makes sense -- and it won't be forever. Give yourself a deadline of 3 months or whatever you need.
And don't feel like you need 6 hours at a stretch every day to get something done. Even if you can carve out an hour or even 90 minutes every weekday, that's 5 to 7.5 hours a week that you can write. The challenge then is to be ruthless not to let anything else take over that time. Put it on your schedule and don't let anything else take it over. You know distractions and interruptions will come so be ruthless to guard that time slot.
Also, think about setting up a complete schedule. When do you want the manuscript finished? Then take out a calendar and plot backwards to schedule the time you need to do it -- down to the exact hours and dates each week. Figure out how many words you want the final manuscript to be, then how much you have to write each week to achieve that goal. I like to get very left-brained about that process. I set up an Excel spreadsheet with dates and chapters and word counts, and at the end of each day I update it. As I see the progress, it really helps me stay on track.
Sometimes it helps to go to a different spot to work on your book -- Panera, a library, or someplace where the usual distractions aren't there. Use what distracts you to reward yourself. If it's your emails, turn off your browser while you're writing and reward yourself with "if I work for an hour, I can check my emails." Or (in my case) have some dark chocolate.
I hope this helps!
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If you have Qs about book writing that you'd like me to A, just post them in a comment.
Meanwhile, read my series that I posted last summer on how I wrote a book in 23 days. I followed the same procedure this time around. And I have to say it really helped me to read what I wrote last year. Hope it will help you too!