Professional writers depend on habit. They build those habits carefully, working around life but always, always putting aside time for writing.
It’s far too easy to allow distractions to gobble up your time. But if you build the habit, that of writing every day, habit will do what good intentions won’t. Ask any smoker.
I built my habit almost a year ago and I’ve kept it in place, even during recent family disruptions. When life grew too heavy to bear, I did what I’ve done before, crawled into an imaginary world. A world where crises would be resolved, where the pain belonged to someone else; the only difference now is that I create the imaginary worlds rather than experiencing another writer’s creation vicariously. And write about my creations.
I started writing fiction in May 2013. Habit, adopted soon afterwards, kept me working. I completed four novels in two series during that period, May to December. In that time I wrote more than 400 000 words, most fiction, some nonfiction. I soon began revising the novels for commercial publication. That too is now habitual.
But my old habits must now change. We propose, life disposes. You may have heard that before. For the past two years I’ve been the primary caregiver for my youngest son; I had to be constantly available to care for him, and that meant staying at home . After his death last month,, habit became even more important. it’s now the only reason for staying home, and there are so many distractions out there.
New habits will be built, or more precisely my old habit will be modified.
Starting today, my habit is to answer correspondence when I get up, usually around 5am. Emails, Facebook messages and notifications, whatever. Catch up on the world news. Visit my group on Facebook, ‘mine’ because I founded it. See what’s interesting in other groups, a family one that’s primarily for my extended paternal family; it’s how we keep track of each other. New Mexico Mensa; Mensa Writers. I’ve somehow become members of other groups because someone added me. It’s easy enough to go by once a week and check on what’s shaking there.
But after that, excuses done, it’s time to write. And that’s the habit I won’t break.
I’m working on revising my most popular book, Darwin’s World for publication. The book had some 107 000 words originally, I’ve revised it down to about 101 000. And I’m not done. I revised Ch 25 between 6:15 and 7:30 this morning and as soon as I finish the blog essay I’ll do another chapter. Chapter 26 (of 34) is waiting on my computer desktop. My editor will comment on the revised versions, and as soon as we agree that it’s the best I can produce, it will be submitted to Amazon for publication.
Meantime, I’ve got two other books in the process of being written and one in the planning stage. Talent, book three in the Wizards Trilogy, is almost half written. As I finish a chapter, I send it off to my editor, proofreader, and ‘consultant’ for their comments. Changes are posted, then I submit the final version to a free site for publication. I’m hoping for other comments when the chapters are published; I’ve had a few. They keep my flights of fancy from becoming too…well, fanciful.
Writers never run out of things to write. After Darwin’s World is posted, I’ll begin revising The Trek, book two of the Darwin’s World Series. And when THAT’s done, I’ll go back to writing book three in the series, Home.
Still thinking of writing a book? Go for it. It’s never been easier.
But if you plan to be a professional writer, the best way to start is by building the habit.