One of the easiest ways to finish your book is to schedule time in your weekly calendar to work on your book. I call these writing appointments.
I generally recommend setting aside at least one-hour chunks of time for each appointment and setting aside at least three hours total each week, but simply scheduling time to write will not be effective unless you use one of the following strategies to help reinforce these appointments.
- Pick a place to write that allows you to focus. Some people prefer writing indoors in absolute silence-like a library-but others may prefer being outdoors in a favorite hammock. It doesn’t matter where you write, as long as you know you can focus and you have access to the tools you need to write.
- Let the key people in your life know about your writing appointments. It’s much easier to focus if your family and friends understand that you will not answer the phone, entertain any guests or answer any questions about family secret recipes during your writing appointment times-even if you are only five feet away from them. If you let them know in advance, they cannot accuse you of being rude when you (try) to ignore them during your writing appointments. But this strategy only works if you actually follow-up with them after your appointment is over, otherwise things can get a little tense in your relationships. It’s even better if you have a designated buffer who can handle any non-emergencies that may come up while you focus on your book.
- Attach a goal to each appointment. When you are ready to start each appointment, you should already know whether you are supposed to spend that time doing research, writing a page for a specific chapter or revising work that you have already written. Having a realistic goal for each appointment helps you make the most of your time. But don’t be so rigid with your goals that you beat yourself up if you don’t get as far as you thought you would-simply revise future goals to be more realistic. One of your first goals might be to write the dedication.
- Attach a reminder to your appointment. If you have a smartphone, you most likely have the option to set a reminder with your appointment that will cause your phone to beep and/or vibrate a few minutes before your appointment as a reminder. If you don’t have a smartphone, or you don’t want to use it, you can setup an online calendar like Google Calendar to text or email you reminders. And if you don’t like any of the above options, you can use a service like IFTTT.com to email you, text you or even call you-as in make your phone ring like you have an incoming phone call-to remind you to attend your appointment. Each of these options are free.
- Schedule your next appointment before you complete your current appointment. Things always come up in life, so don’t let yourself walk away from your current writing appointment before you schedule your next writing appointment.
- Don’t cancel an appointment before you reschedule it for another time. You thought that if you scheduled your writing time for an hour before everyone else in the house woke up that you would not be interrupted. But how could you have known that your dinner guests would stay for a total of five hours last night and keep you up much later than your normal bed time? So before you finally do pass out for the night or at least during your first chance the next morning, take a minute to reschedule your appointment-just like you would if it were a doctor’s appointment.
- Get an accountability partner who will help you honor your appointments. If you have a family member, friend, writing coach, or even an online writing group who will ask you about your progress, you will be more motivated to not only keep your writing appointments, but to make them productive. No one wants to tell an accountability partner “you know, I haven’t done a thing since we last talked about my book.” There are times when that may be true, but having someone who holds you accountable to your goals makes that less likely.
When you use these seven strategies to help you honor your writing appointments, you will be well on your way to starting and finishing the book your audience deserves.
Question: When is the best time for you to write?
Image by:Everaldo Coelho (YellowIcon) [LGPL (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/lgpl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons