Part One of 5-day Start Writing Challenge: Why it is important to create a physical space to write in.
Th five-day challenge doesn’t begin until September 21st. That is when the actual writing will start. However, there is a bit of prep work we need to before we begin writing. And no, I don’t mean plotting. I will warn you now that if you’re looking to plan your story from start to finish, I am not the coach you are looking for. For me, plotting is pure, unadulterated torture. For real, if I believed in hell, that would be how I would be punished for eternity. But I can help you start writing, and keep writing until your book is finished.
Chances are, if you’re here, you already know what you want to write, you just aren’t sure how to get started. There are too many practical, mental, and emotion roadblocks standing in your way to even think about starting. For now, we’re going to concentrate on the practical reasons writing doesn’t happen–don’t worry, we’ll get to those mental and emotional ones too.
When I polled writers on Instagram (including writers who have published books!) the number one thing keeping them from writing was figuring out when to fit it into their schedule.
Which can be so hard. It’s probably something you’re struggling with as well.
But the number one way to finish writing a book is to keep writing it. And you’re certainly never going to write “The End” if you don’t even start.
That is why the first step is to starting a regular (maybe even daily) writing practice is to create space in your life for writing. The most concrete way to do that is create a physical place for you to write in.
Some writers go all out and put together a dream office. Some writers take over a corner of the dinning room or the breakfast bar in the kitchen. Some writers claim the comfy sofa in the midst of their kid’s clangor and clamor. I have been known to do all of the above. I have a desk in the corner of the dining room where I do the hardcore work. I hang out on the sofa during the day while my kids are playing, and in the evening, I hang out on the other sofa with my husband. I have claimed all of these places as spaces where writing can occur at different times of the day. I spent some effort and money (mostly on plants) putting my desk together. The other two are examples of me being flexible, but we’ll talk about that soon. What is important to know is that I have claimed physical space in my house, and declared that I will write there at a certain time of day.
Creating space for yourself can be as simple as telling the people you live with that between the hours of six and eight on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you are writing in the kitchen and you are not to be disturbed. You are still setting the intention of making writing a part of your life on a regular basis. And as soon as you start making room for writing, the likelihood that you will follow through and actually write increases by 16 million percent! (That’s a factual, scientific percentage. I measured.)
Telling the people you live with to leave you the heck alone while you’re writing is part of creating space by the way, even if you have the dream office.
You also need to decide when you will write. That might be your biggest hurdle. Your day is full. You have a full-time job, commitments, kids, family, an extremely demanding goldfish. Your chickens take their meal worms at 7:30 every night and dammit they will not be denied. Oh, is that just my chickens? Spoiled brats.
Anyway, take a look at your schedule. When can you set aside at least thirty minutes to get your words in during the course of the challenge? (Though aiming for an hour would be ideal.)
Less TV in the evening? Getting up early? Over your lunch break?
#5amWritersClub is a thing for a reason.
I wrote the first draft of The Van Birch Incident from 5-6 AM over about four months in 2018. I didn’t remember a goddam word of it when I pulled it out to revise earlier this year. (I am not a morning person.) But I got it written.
Now that my kids are old enough not to accidentally kill themselves at every turn, I tend to hang out with them during the day and write in short bursts. There’s a reason why I do ten-minute sprints, but more on that later.
More often than not, I get the bulk of my writing done on the sofa after the kids are in bed on my nights off from the restaurant. (Yup, I still have a day–er, night job.)
I could get up early and write, but then I wouldn’t have time for YMT (yoga, meditation, Tarot). I basically turn into The Hulk when I don’t YMT, and I don’t have time to field that kind of rage in my life anymore. Plus, I love torturing my husband with my sad bastard writing playlists. It’s the little things that really make a marriage, you know.
Find a time that works best for you.
Running away to the woods to abandon society and write your manifesto totally counts, by the way.
Your homework for today is to create some space for you to write in and choose a time to get your writing done. Write it down. Create a plan, declare your intention to the world and feel damn good doing it.
- Where will you write?
- How will you make it yours? (candles, flowers, telling the family to buzz off, etc.)
- When will you write? (and for how long)
And on the first day of the challenge, don’t forget to share the space you’ve created for yourself to write in on Instagram with our hashtag, #startwritingchallenge
Ready to try the Start Writing Challenge? Sign up here!
Read the part two in this series on Word Count Goals >>