Everyone wants to write a book, but few people ever do. Why is this? Because we writers tend to focus on the wrong thing.
Most people who want to write a book start with goals, and that’s not how it works. If you want to write a book some day, you need to start writing today. In other words, don’t set out to write a book. Set out to become a regular writer.
If you want to write a book some day, you need to start writing today.
That’s the secret. It’s not the goals that make us writers. It’s the habits. Anyone can say they want to write. It’s another thing to actually be a writer. What’s the difference? Habits. An amateur talks about the work. A pro does the work.
I’ve written before about this, so I won’t belabor the point here, but you need to focus more on the process than the results. This is especially true when you’re getting started as a writer. Goals are good, but habits are better.
Don’t misunderstand me. I want you to achieve your goals and get the results you desire. But what gets you there is the process. How you do this matters a lot.
So what does that mean for you, the aspiring author who said this year was going to be different, this time you were actually going to finish a book? There are three things you need.
1. Routines: When and where you write
Routines are what make a writer a writer. A routine is the way you approach your work, and every successful writer has one. A routine includes when and where you write. It should be consistent and replicable so you can focus on the writing itself instead of finding a time and a place to write.
No two routines are alike. You have to find what works for you. Is it writing 10 minutes a day, like Shaunta Grimes does? Or 500 words a day as I do? Do you write best in the morning or at night? Find something that works for you and do it over and over again.
Don’t set out to write a book. Set out to become a regular writer.
To begin establishing a routine, ask yourself these two questions:
- Where will you write every day?
- When will you write every day?
Imagine what it looks like for you to be sitting down, doing your writing. Where are you? What time is it? How do you feel? Then, do everything you can to actually create that scene on a daily basis.
2. Systems: How you get the writing done
In addition to routines, you need a system. A system is simply the way that you do the writing. Do you use MS Word, your phone, or some other tool — maybe a notebook? Do you light a candle? Drink a cup of coffee? This is all your system.
Again, every writer has a unique system; but the essentials of any good system is that it’s simple and effective.
3. Deadlines: What it takes to finish on time
The only thing that really gets the writing done is a deadline. A deadline includes a word count and an actual date when the writing will be due.
With a blog, that maybe once a day, or once a week. If weekly, it should be on the same day of the week at the same time. Make it something your readers can expect of you. If it’s a book, it needs to be delivered on time to the audience or publisher.
The only thing that really gets the writing done is a deadline.
Think about your next writing project. What is the scope of it? How long will it be? Whose it for? When will you know that you’re done?
Set a deadline, or series of deadlines for various drafts if it’s a more in-depth piece. Then decide on a word count, or at least a range, and get to writing.
If you don’t define the end ahead of time, you’ll never reach it.
Going deeper with writing routines, systems, and deadlines
This is what it takes to become a regular writer, and eventually an author. Consistent routines, simple systems, and regular deadlines. These are the tools you need to do your job.
And before you know it, you will have developed a regular writing habit that can then be applied to larger writing projects, like actually finishing a book.
If you’d like more help with this, I’d love to invite you to a masterclass where I’m teaching how to use routines, systems, and deadlines to get your writing done — and then how to turn that into a book.
Come with questions, and I’ll do everything I can to help you get unstuck and start writing more. It’s totally free, but you have to register to get access to the training.
What’s your biggest struggle with getting your writing done? Share in the comments.