When you are a writer, you meet a lot of people who want to be writing. The guy in my local cafe has a fantasy novel that he’s been researching for about seven years. A friend of mine has been working on a novel for 20 years. The beautiful girl at the library loves writing and wants to do it again.
Whenever we meet, we talk about writing. And it goes like this.
Them: “I really must get back into writing.”
Me: “You should.”
There are always reasons why you’re not writing your book. Millions of them, and they’re very good. But here are six reasons why you should start right now.
1. There will never be a perfect time to write your novel. There is only now. Now is as good a time as any, right?
2. If you wait for the perfect place in which to write your novel, you will never, ever start. You can build a room in which to write, but it will not make you write. Writers write. Under the stairs, in a cupboard, in the corner of the living room. The view out the window will not put words on a page. So, if you look at it that way, you are in the perfect place to begin right now.
3. Writing is not convenient. As much as we might wish it to be otherwise, writing is not an inclusive task. It requires a certain amount of selfish time and space, which is not always easy for loved ones and others who live with writers to take on board. Having said that, a person can do a lot of the hard yards of writing – the thinking – whilst physically present in day to day life. I do a lot of my best plotting and planning whilst weeding, showering, vacuuming, washing up, and doing the other mindless tasks required to keep a family home running. I do my actual writing at night, in the deep silence that only comes when others are asleep. It’s not always easy, but I take what I can get. You can do that, too.
4. Your first draft doesn’t need to be perfect – just finished. It’s not easy to write in snatches, and it can result in a certain lack of cohesion in your first draft, but that’s okay. Because once you have a first draft, you have something to work with. If you write 200 words a day, you’ll have 73000 by the end of a year. You’d be happy with that, right?
5. If you don’t start, you simply… don’t. It’s not always easy to begin something. Where do you start? What will it be about? I used to struggle with this because I used to believe that I needed to know where something ended before I even began. Now I know that the best ideas happen when you’re doing the work – and that the strings of thought and theme can be drawn together in surprising ways by the subconscious. Write something. Surprise yourself.
6. If you Google how long it takes to create a habit, you get an answer of between 21-28 days. Having attempted NaNoWriMo several times, however, I decided to dig a little deeper. Writing 1000 or more words every day last November didn’t make me writing 1000 words or more in December. Instead, it made me tired and so I spent much of December lying down, thinking about what I’d written in November.
So just how long will it take you to create a daily writing habit? Well, research suggests anywhere between 18 and 254 days, depending on the complexity of the habit you’re trying to create. Let’s just look at that again – up to 254 days. With that kind of commitment in mind, you’d better start today!
So, there you have it. Six reasons to write that opening sentence (which you will no doubt change at least three times before you’ve finished) and see what happens.
Are you struggling to find the time to write your novel? My online course ‘Make Time To Write’ will help to get you started. All details here.
Also published on Medium.