National Novel Writing month has ended. Perhaps you were one of the thousands of winners who managed to put 50,000 words on paper. Perhaps not. Don’t worry, you don’t have to wait until next year to dedicate a month to writing. You can do it right now. Take a look at the calendar. With the exception of February, every month has 30 or 31 days. Choose one and get writing on that book.
You’re probably saying, “But I don’t write fiction!” You don’t have to write fiction to make the idea of National Novel Writing Month work for you. I used the month to write a book proposal. A colleague wrote a poem a day. One of my clients is finishing a memoir.
How about you? If you’re a business owner or a solopreneur, writing can increase both your credibility and visibility. Here’s how to make any month National Novel Writing Month and make it work for you.
Choose a month. This part isn’t complicated. Choose a month and write down the number of days it has in it. You’ll need this information later.
Choose a topic. Make a list of everything you know a lot about. If you’re writing to increase business, focus your list making on what you know that can help clients, increase your credibility, and make money for you. When the list is finished, choose your top three ideas. You need to be so passionately interested in these ideas that you’ll have no trouble writing about any one of them for a whole month. It’s hard to get interested in something that’s boring. And if you, the writer, are bored;imagine how your reader feels!
Choose a project. Once you have chosen three topics, decide what kind of a project you want to complete. Do you want to put together a book you’ll self-publish, a series of articles, or a free report? Maybe this is a good opportunity to create a workbook that clients can purchase directly from you. You’ll want the project to have value for both you and your clients. You’ll also want it to be something that clients and potential clients will perceive they need. Do online searches for books, articles, or reports on all three topics. Is this a topic that has been covered to death? If so, move to one of your other choices. If your topic is unique or you can present it in a unique way, you’ll be more successful at selling it when you’re done.
Outline. Once you have your topic and project, sketch out a rough outline. List all of the subjects you’ll cover. Put them in a rough chapter order. If you are writing a series of articles, make a chart of the articles you will write. You’ll need to get a sense of how many words or pages will be in the whole project as well as in each of the pieces. Look at the work of others and count their words. This gives you an idea of the industry standard. Once you have your total word count, you’ll be able to make a daily schedule.
Schedule writing time. Nothing happens unless it is on the calendar. Decide how many days a week you’ll write and when you’ll do it. Schedule it just like you’d schedule an appointment with your doctor or lawyer. You don’t need to block out hours and hours. Depending on how fast you write, you can probably get your daily writing done in 2-4 hours. Writers are most efficient when they write for 30-90 minutes, take an energy break, and then do another 30-90 minute writing session. An energy break might include eating a healthy snack or taking a walk.
Do the math! Once you have writing time on the schedule, do the math to figure out how many words you have to write each day to finish your project. If you are writing a 50,000-word book and planning to write 6 days a week for a month, you’ll need to write 2083 words a day. If you decide to write every day, you only need to write 1666 words a day. Need a day off? Write ahead by putting down twice as many words one day and take the next day off!
Get a buddy. Most of us need some sort of external accountability to get work done. At work we have a boss who gives us a salary for our efforts. At home, our children usually appreciate the healthy meals and clean clothes we provide. But almost no one cares if you write a book. That’s why you need a buddy or a coach to hold you accountable to your writing goal. Make a plan to email each other at the end of each writing session and talk at least once a week.
Get rewards! If you’re going to sweat over your computer for a month, you better have a big, juicy reward waiting for you at the end of each day. You’ll work more efficiently if you give yourself a daily reward for finishing your word count. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive;listen to some music, talk to a friend, or watch a favorite television show. I usually save my email, Facebook, and Twitter time until after my daily writing work is done. When you finish the whole project, make sure you celebrate your accomplishment with a bigger reward. Perhaps you’ll get a massage, have a party, or take a weekend getaway.
Edit. Once you’ve finished your work, set it aside for a week or two. Then review it and rewrite any sections that don’t make sense or work in the overall flow of the manuscript. Once you are done revising your work, you’ll need to have an objective third party look at it. Ask an editor to look at your work for content, readability, and flow. In addition, you’ll want an editor to check spelling and eliminate grammatical errors. Expect to pay $30-$60 per hour for an editor’s services. If you can’t afford an editor, consider joining a writing group and asking for their help. Of course, you’ll be expected to look at the work of other writers in return. Revising and editing are essential steps in the writing process;making your work shine!
Publish! Once you’ve completed the editing process, you’re ready to publish your work. Think about whether you’ll create an ebook or use a self-publishing house like Lulu to create a more traditional book. Some writers set up their own publishing houses to give their book more credibility. However you get it out there, get it out there. Then celebrate. You’ve completed a writing project! Congratulations.
- 2014 Pushcart Nominations
- Machina 005