Last night, after an entire week of what seemed like fruitless struggle, I completed the edits to chapter twelve of my novel-in-progress. To celebrate, I helped myself to a brownie or 2 . . . or 3. Now, there’s only eight more chapters left to go. Ah, the joys of writing.
To say I am relieved to be nearly done with this project is an understatement. It is not that I don’t love this novel, and I do, but it’s been a work-in-progress for nearly 3 years. Why did it take so long? Well, there are many reasons. First off, it was drafted on the fly with very little planning or outlining (something I will NEVER do again) so its had to undergo quite a few revisions and rewrites. Secondly, I was starting a new job, which I found to be very distracting if not simply energy-sapping. The third reason is probably the biggest reason why my novel has taken so long to see completion: succumbing to distractions.
What do I mean by that? I mean watching television, playing video games, shopping, dating etc. The time I spent working on my novel was minimal in comparison. Meanwhile, I’m sitting around drinking wine with my sister, bemoaning the fact that I’m not a successfully published author. Finally, we reached the obvious conclusion: we need to just sit down and write.
Currently, my sister and I are both close to finishing our first pre-published works. In the past year alone, I have drafted 3 novels while making edits on my first work. The secret behind our success is no secret at all: just sit down and write. Silence the cell phone, turn off the television, schedule time for yourself, and stay put. Ignore all possible distractions. You might be tempted to run out and buy that much needed . . . banana peeler, but resist the urge to leave your home. Friends and loved ones will blow up your phone with awesome plans–politely decline them.
While your sitting at your computer, getting ready to write, don’t be tempted to check Facebook, WordPress, or Twitter. Do not open any social media sites, not even YouTube. Social media is one of the worst distractions for writers, and it’s at our fingertips. Close the internet browser; better yet, disable your internet for the day. I’m serious. Unless, you use an online program to write, all you should need is a blank Word Document. Otherwise, you risk being sucked in and losing countless hours of writing time.
By this time next year, what would you rather have accomplished: writing a novel or spending one-thousand hours sitting on the couch watching reality television with your boyfriend? If you prefer the latter, then don’t count on publishing a novel anytime soon.
I know it sounds painful, but in order to accomplish your goals, you have to eliminate the distractions, even if those distractions are people. I’m not saying cut off ties with your family and friends but make time for yourself. Do you really need to see your boyfriend every single day? Trust me, a little time apart can do wonders for any relationship. When I write, I turn off the cell phone. I don’t even have cable T.V. It’s just a waste of time. If you view writing as nothing more than a hobby, then it will never be anything more. To pursue writing as a possible means of income, it’s going to take serious commitment and well . . . sitting down to write.