Want to write a novel? Our guest, Devlin Blake, gives you some useful tips.
It’s every writer’s dream to do nothing but work on their book all day, every day. However, the reality is we have jobs, we have families, we have a life. Working on your book for 8 or more hours a day simply isn’t possible for most people. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean we don’t have enough time to write, just that we have to use the time we have a little better. Here are four productivity tips for working writers.
Write a novel: planning — know where your story is heading before you write
There are two ways to write a story, planning and pantsing.
Pantsing involves sitting at a computer (or typewriter) and just writing whatever comes into your head. It feeds into the myth that writers are driven by some divine inspiration.
Notice, I said myth. True professional writers come to their writing time with a plan. Even if it’s your full time job, (and for most of us, it’s not,) writing time is far too precious to be squandered waiting for inspiration. Instead, plan out your characters, major events, and some light world building research for your story before you start writing.
When you write in this way, you have the ability to display your character’s personalities, sprinkle in your world building, and design the story around the story’s events. This means that every writing session, even if it’s as small as fifteen minutes, will produce some quality words that will move your story along. Once you are able to write more quality in less time, it’s much easier and more fun to create stories that resonate with readers.
Once you know the plan, you can really make the second tip work for you.
Write more words per hour (even if you’re a lousy typist)
Many writers can’t type either because of physical problems, (such as carpel tunnel) or simply because they never learned. Learning to type is a long involved process. However writing without typing is easy. The secret is in Talk To Text Software. Though this has been around for well over a decade, it’s finally starting to come into its own.
There are two major players in the talk to text world; the premium software Dragon, and the free application that comes with Windows computers, Microsoft Talk To Text.
Dragon has a longer training time. However, it’s capable of creating custom dictionaries, which is perfect for anyone who writes in a more technical, jargon or fantasy based world. It also has versions for both Windows and Macs.
Microsoft Talk To Text is ready to go right out of the box. You can start using it the very first day with its unique ‘train as you go’ system. However, it doesn’t have the custom options that Dragon offers.
Regardless of which software you use, by speaking your words instead of typing them, you can average 7,000 words an hour. On a good day, you could even write 10,000 words an hour. 7,000 is enough for a whole short story or a chapter or two of a longer novel. So with an hour a day, you can easily write 49,000 words a week. That’s only 10,000 words short of an entire novel. In a year, you could have multiples novels and countless short stories.
How to use your smart phone to write smarter
In addition to indie publishing, the modern writer has an advantage that even the writer of ten years ago did not; the smart phone. Yes, you can for research, but you can also use it to write.
Thanks to the App Store and Google Play, there are countless numbers of apps out there, including, you guessed it, talk to text ones. The better talk to text apps feature unlimited words and an option to email your writing to yourself. This gives you the option to speak your book, particularly if you are in the car or on your morning commute.
Once you have the email, you can simply copy and paste the words into your work in progress and keep going. This enables you to talk from anywhere and write right when inspiration hits. It’s like the journal you always keep with you.
If you have Dragon, I recommend their app. It integrates perfectly with their software so you don’t have to train it or customize the dictionary again. It makes writing on the go a breeze.
If you don’t have Dragon, I recommend Speech Notes. This app features a large word count, an easy option to email the notes to yourself, and zero training time. The only downside is it has to be connected to the internet in order to work.
The impact of your health on your novel
It’s important not to underestimate the importance of your health when it comes to writing. A mind that is frazzled, worn down, poorly nourished or hasn’t gotten enough sleep can’t create a great story.
It all starts with getting enough sleep. Only about 1% of people can actually get by on less than seven hours a night. Chances are, you’re not one of them, but you’re trying to be. The bad news is, short sleeping is genetic. If you weren’t born with the gene for it, you can’t train your body to ‘get by’ with less. If you wake up feeling like you need coffee all the time, you’re not a true short sleeper.
When you don’t get enough sleep, not only are you less creative, you also eat more unhealthy foods and are more emotional, even over the little things. You also make more bad decisions, such as forgoing writing time. That’s why the easiest way to put more hours in your day, and in your writing, is to put more hours in your sleep.
Writing with a full time job and a life can be difficult, but not impossible. If you make the most of your time with software, filling in your free moments and knowing what you’re going to write about in advance, it is possible to write all the stories that are in your head and enjoy a successful writing career.
About the author, Devlin Blake
Devlin Blake is an author and writing coach who helps you write faster and better while holding down a job and a life. Using systems, Devlin is able to able to put out four novels a year using systems. If you would like Devlin’s Road Map To Rough Drafts, a cheat sheet that shows you which parts of your novel to focus on when, you can get your free copy here.
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