How often do you reach the end of your day without having written a single word of your book?
If you’re like many Authors, the answer is too often.
It’s a scenario I see all the time:
Writing is on your to-do list all day, but you can’t get to it because 500 other things pop up that “need your immediate attention.”
By the end of the day, you’re too mentally drained to write, so you put it on tomorrow’s list.
The next day, the cycle starts over again. But this time it’s worse because you still feel bad about not doing it the day before. You’d rather not think about it, so now you find yourself avoiding it, which only makes things harder.
This kind of negative cycle can spiral out of control. I see it happen to Authors all the time (I’ve done it to myself too many times to count).
Sometimes Authors stop writing completely, and often they never even start.
But there is a way to break out of the cycle:
Make a writing plan and stick to it.
At Scribe, we’ve helped over 1,700 Authors publish their book.
Through that experience, we’ve developed a writing plan system that works.
No matter who you are or what your personal circumstances might be, creating a plan according to this process can help you write your book.
How to find writing time in your busy schedule
1. Commit to writing your book
The first and most important thing you need to understand about writing your book is that the writing begins before you’ve written a single word. It begins with a decision:
The decision that you will prioritize writing your book.
Unfortunately, a lot of Authors think that wanting to write a book is enough. It isn’t.
You have to DECIDE that you’re going to do it AND that you’re going to make it a priority.
Wanting to write a book and deciding to prioritize writing a book are two different things.
Look at the two statements in comparison:
- “I’d love to write a book.”
- “I’ve decided to write a book.”
The first one expresses hope. The second one expresses intention.
So, before you read the rest of this post, stop and make your decision right now. Say it out loud.
“I’m going to write this book. It’s important to me to make that happen, and I’m going to treat it like it’s important.”
Everything else in this post will help you find time to write, but you have to start with that commitment.
2. Decide to make a writing plan
Without a specific writing plan, you will not actually write your book.
Think of it this way: everyone wants to be in great shape. We might even decide to get in great shape.
But it isn’t going to happen until we start exercising and eating healthy each day.
People may fall in love with the results—or with the idea of the results—but what actually gets you there is going through the process.
If the first decision was about committing to the result, this decision is about committing to the process and then making a plan to do it.
Once you prioritize your book, you carve time out of your day to work on it, and you sit down every day during that time to write it.
I’m going to show you exactly what we teach in our book coaching services (like Guided Author and Coached Author), where our clients do the writing themselves.
We start them off by having them set up their writing plan template. Then they fill it in step-by-step:
Download a free copy of the writing plan template here.
3. Decide on the amount of time you’ll write each day
What do we recommend?
- 1 hour is optimal
- 2 hours would be amazing (but not necessary)
- Don’t go over 4 hours
- Be honest with yourself about what you can commit to
The key to a good writing plan is consistency. If you can’t stick with whatever you decide, you’ll be back in that negative spiral.
But if you think 1 hour doesn’t sound like enough, think again.
Committing 1 hour a day to writing your book will get your rough draft finished in less than 4 months in most cases.
Stop here and add this to your writing plan.
4. Decide what time of day you’ll write
This is different for everyone.
A lot of studies have suggested that people do their best creative work in the morning. But I’ve seen plenty of Authors who write best at night.
Whatever works for you is great. The point is to commit to a specific time that you know you can make happen.
Stop here and add that to your writing plan too.
5. Decide where you’ll write
Next, decide where you’re going to write.
Again, it doesn’t matter where it is. The key is to write wherever you’re going to get writing done.
It might be in your home office, at your favorite outdoor cafe, in your tool shed, or even in your electric car while it’s charging in the driveway. I don’t care, and neither should anyone else.
The only thing that matters is that you know you can go there and that it will be conducive for you to write.
Stop here and add it to your writing plan.
6. Set your minimum number of words per day
At Scribe, we recommend a minimum of 250 words a day.
That might not seem like much, but that’s the point. This is the word count for which you’ll hold yourself accountable. It needs to be a goal you can accomplish.
At 250 words each day, you could write a 120-page book in about 4 months.
Ernest Hemingway wrote only 500-700 words each day as a full-time writer, writing for 6 hours a day.
Remember, you’re welcome to write more than that. This is just the daily number of words to which you’re committing, at a minimum.
A goal of 250 words is something you can accomplish even on a rough day when your time gets crunched.
It’s also a chance to get a “little victory.” Celebrating a small win each day helps keep you out of that negative cycle.
The days when you only hit your minimum are fantastic. Those days mean you’re building a habit. Those are the days that prove you’ll finish your book.
Stop here and add your minimum word count to your writing plan.
7. Decide on your daily accountability
Now that you have your minimum number of daily words, ask yourself this:
How will I hold myself accountable for sticking to my plan?
We recommend posting your daily word count on Facebook or any other social media.
Posting your count where friends and family can see it will help you hold yourself accountable to your plan. It will also give those same friends and family a chance to cheer you on.
Other accountability tricks include:
- Daily text partner
- Word count journal
- Project blog
- Mobile apps for habit-building
Whatever your accountability system is going to be, stop here and add it to your writing plan.
8. Decide on your self-care routine
Believe it or not, your self-care routine is tremendously important to your writing process.
Our creativity is at its strongest when we’re relaxed, rested, and focused. That only happens if we make it happen.
I’ve seen self-care plans include all kinds of things:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Sleep 8 hours each night
- Go on daily nature walks
- Energy healing
- Float sessions
- Epsom salt baths
Whatever you need to stay calm, centered, and focused on your writing journey, do it.
Stop and add a single major self-care commitment to your writing plan. One will do.
9. Decide what software to use
Guess what? Your writing skills don’t depend on your software.
I’ve seen people complete their writing projects on just about every kind of software.
Don’t get caught up in this decision. And definitely don’t stall out trying to learn some new app because you think you need it. You don’t.
You just need something you can write your book on that you already know how to use.
Whatever software you’re going to use, stop here and add it to your writing plan.
10. Add your time blocks to your calendar
Great! You’re almost done.
Now that you have your time planned out, take a minute to add those writing blocks to your calendar.
Most of us live by a pretty strict schedule, so if it’s not on the calendar, it won’t happen.
For many Authors, this is the number one thing that holds them to writing their book. More than friends or social media accountability, they feel obligated to do it because it’s on the calendar.
Stop and do it now. Put those writing blocks in whatever calendar system you use.
11. Don’t try to be super-human
Remember, the writing plan has to be something you can commit to and remain committed to over the course of several months.
Nobody’s perfect, and everyone needs to take a breather once in a while. That’s part of your self-care!
So, can you take a day off every week?
Sure. Plan it into your schedule and enjoy it.
What should you do if you miss a day?
Forgive yourself and move on.
That said, with a minimum word count of just 250, you should be able to knock these out most days, even if you’re tired.
I’ve seen it work.
Authors grumble, but then they think:
“I can do this. It’s just 250 words.”
And they sit at their computer and do it.
But if you really can’t or if something crazy happens, let it go.
Tomorrow, hit that 250-word count. As long as you get right back to it, you’ll have that first draft before you know it.
12. Break your book into writing pieces
Finally, break the task of writing your book into pieces.
Writing a book can feel like a Herculean task. A solid writing plan breaks that job up into achievable writing goals.
This is critical to any writing program and one of the most important writing tips for any Author.
You won’t create good writing habits if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve each day.
Using your writing plan, set up your writing blocks with focused tasks for each writing session.
Don’t just block out time to “write my book.” Be specific about what you’ll do when. Some examples include:
- Figure out book positioning
- Brainstorm table of contents
- Draft outline
- Write the first section of chapter 1
These kinds of tasks give you discrete, achievable goals with small victories every day. They help you:
- Block out the time you really need for each section
- Include any research time you need before writing
- Focus deeply on each section as you write it
- Include editing time after you’re done writing
- Feel motivated by your progress as you complete each step in your plan