Most people have an image of a novelist as someone who devotes all of their “working hours” to writing. Certainly, many best-selling authors can make writing their day job, but for the rest of us, creative time has to take place after hours. Do not let the fact that it’s not your main occupation stop you from becoming a writer. We all have to start somewhere and congratulations on being ready to take that important first step!
Choose How You Spend Your Time
I’ve written five novels and published three, all while running a successful consulting business and raising a family. I’m often asked if I sleep. I do, but there are other things I don’t do, so I can make writing a priority. That is the key to embarking on the path to writing a novel. Something has to give if you want a few hours every night (or every morning) to write. I gave up watching television. Yes, it’s awkward when I can’t comment on the latest shows with my friends, but I console myself with the knowledge that I am using my time to work on something important.
Create the Support to Be Successful
There is no shortcut to finishing the first draft of a manuscript. What lies ahead is hours of extra work between dinner and bedtime. And there have been a number of family vacations where I stole a day for myself to work. It’s important to speak with the people nearest and dearest to you and let them know you have decided to embark on this journey. Artists need the support of their community to be successful. I’m fortunate in that my husband and daughter have always supported my writing and helped by lending a hand with meal prep or cleanup, or other chores to make sure I can be at my desk early enough to be productive.
Write, Write, and Write Some More
When I have a novel under development, I try to write every day. My usual routine is to write for one to three hours after dinner. I work consistently like this for as long as it takes to finish the first draft. Sometimes I write on my laptop, but more often I sketch out these early pages with a pencil and a notebook. My novels are usually 200 pages (or so) long. If you have a 700-page fantasy in mind, it will take you some time to get a first draft completed. Of course, not every day can be a productive one.
There are going to be times when the words don’t flow. Don’t give up. Use those times to review what you’ve written or re-read your character profiles. Hopefully, you’ve drafted an outline of your story and know what is going to happen. Take time to analyze the plot and decide if there are areas you might change.
When I have writer’s block, I usually cure it by writing letters to friends or conducting research for something in the book. Science fiction and fantasy have a lot of moving parts, so I’m often on the hunt for information as obscure as the perfect 14th-century dagger to poisonous plants and ancient demons. For my latest novel, 48 States, I researched the fracking industry, read US Energy Department oil and gas reports, and poured over maps of the west.
Finding the inspiration to be creative when you’ve already put in a full day’s work or spent the day managing your household is not easy. But working women, especially working moms are the most adept multi-taskers in the universe. If you use those skills and apply the advice I gave above, in one year’s time you should have the first draft of a novel. So, what are you waiting for? There is no time like the present to get started.
This guest post was authored by Evette Davis
Evette Davis is the novelist who created the “Dark Horse” trilogy, including novels Woman King and Dark Horse. The final installment will be published in 2023. Davis also co-owns BergDavis Public Affairs, a San Francisco-based public affairs firm. Before establishing her firm, Davis worked in Washington as a press secretary for a member of Congress and as a reporter for daily newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In 2014, she founded Flesh & Bone, an independent publishing imprint. In 2017, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library named Davis a Library Laureate. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and Book Country. In 2021, 48 States was honored in the San Francisco Writers Conference Writers Contest. Davis splits her time between San Francisco and Sun Valley, Idaho, with her husband, daughter, and their American Labrador retriever. For more information, visit evettedavis.com, or follow her on Pinterest (@evettedavis399), Instagram (@evette1364), Twitter (@SFEvette), Facebook (@evette1364) and Goodreads (@evettesf).
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