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How to Write a Book In Your Spare Time

How to Write a Book In Your Spare Time

Today, I’m going to let you in on a little secret:

Anyone can write a book.

Yes, that’s right, I said anyone. Even you. You have stories you want to tell. You have things you want to say. You are the only person on Earth who can tell others how you see the world, and you feel about a given subject, a particular theme or trope. Whether you’re a natural writer or in need some polish, you can write a book.

How many times have you heard something like this: “To be a writer means you’ll die, penniless and alone, in a garret somewhere!” “Don’t you have to take up alcoholism, as a hobby, to be a writer?” “Who’s going to read it?” “When will you find the time?”

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These are myths. While it is true that many writers like their sauce, and some have starved or frozen to death in drafty, unheated attics, and few have been wildly successful, none of these apply to you. You’re just starting the journey. If you decide later on to be the kind of writer who never touches a drop of liquor, likes indoor heating and plumbing, and attracts legions of fans, then you’re breaking the mold and God bless you for it. For now, it’s time to get to work on that story you’ve been aching to tell since you can’t remember when.

As to the last objection, many people have to stifle the urge to cry, “Ain’t nobody got time for that! Spare time? WHAT spare time!?” Everyone has spare time, whether they realize it or not. You may have to sacrifice your TV time or hanging with friends, but look at what you stand to gain. If you really want to write, you can and will make time for it.

This is how to write a book:

1) Now is the time to start

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    It took me fifteen years to write my first novel. Why? Because I let absolutely everything that crossed my path distract me. I always knew I’d get it done someday, but when I look back, I could kick myself for all the wasted time I spent playing video games, dealing with aborted romantic entanglements, and working at dead-end jobs. The time to start is not when it’s convenient, when the kids are grown, or when your boss isn’t breathing down your neck 24/7. The time to start is NOW. But how?

    2) Set realistic time and word count goals

    Professional writers can spend their entire day putting words on paper, planning stories, and taking care of first-round editing as they go. This is not your job right now, and you probably don’t have that luxury. Your job is to sit down and get words on the page. If you have two hours a day to spare in which you can write, then take two hours. If you can only commit to fifteen minutes, then take fifteen minutes. The point is to write as much as you can, as often as you can. Like anything else, writing takes practice and discipline to become proficient. You will find as you progress and come to enjoy writing more that you can fit more writing into less time, but getting something on paper is the mission of the moment. If you think you can lay down 19,000 words in 24 hours, go for it. Pro tip: There’s a reason they invented DVR. If you’re a TV junkie, use it. Better still, kick the habit altogether. More on this in a few minutes.

    3) Make time for it

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      It’s easy to say, “I’m too tired. I don’t feel like it. My favorite show’s on tonight. The kid/spouse/boss has this thing…” All of these are excuses. I know, because I’ve used them. I still do sometimes. If you’re really serious about getting the book written, you will make time for it, even if it’s only ten minutes before you go to bed. Type out the notes you scribbled in your steno pad during your lunch break. Please, don’t ever, EVER use “writer’s block” as an excuse. I personally believe writer’s block is a myth that people use to explain why they’re not working.

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      4) Carry a notepad with you

      Sometimes you’ll find you get a great idea: a clever turn of phrase, a precise description of someone’s eyes, or just a cool scene you want to write. The problem is, you don’t have anything to write with! The easiest cure for this is to carry a notepad at all times. That way, you can jot down notes whenever the spirit moves you without trying to remember all of your story ideas until you can get to your computer.

      5) Set a writing ritual

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        Writing is a special kind of work, and it requires a special space and time. (At least until you get your wheels under you; then, feel free to experiment.) During this time, turn off all your phones, lock the door, tell the spouse, kids, roommates, or friends that you’re on lockdown until further notice, get off the Internet, and feed and water your pets. Eliminate any possible reason anyone can have to break up your mojo and shut off anything that might create a distraction. Turn off the TV! I cannot stress this point enough. Television is to writers as Round-Up is to weeds. It will kill your creativity and your flow. Pro tip: For helpful white noise, try playing music that’s appropriate to the scene you’re writing. I personally like contemporary jazz for love scenes, rap or metal for fight scenes, and appropriate music for scenes of calm or tension. Experiment and discover what works best for you while in the middle of a given scene.

        6) Seek out other writers for inspiration and challenge

        Many writers hang out on Twitter, and they love to encourage new authors. If you want to test yourself, try following a few and look for the hashtag #1k1hr or something similar. This means “1k (1,000 words) in 1 hour.” It is a friendly challenge; there are no prizes and no one’s going to give you a hard time if you don’t make the goal, but it’s a good way to flex your writing muscles. You start a timer and write like a crazy person until the timer goes off. Then you report your result. Some people surprise themselves by laying down 1.5k or even 2k words within the time limit. Test yourself! This is also a great way to communicate with other authors, and start networking early.

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        7) Ask questions

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          Another good resource is Writing.com. This is a great place for getting positive feedback, and it has forums where you can ask questions about plot, spelling, and all manner of nuances related to writing. I strongly suggest you do your writing first, and then post any questions you’ve generated during your writing time, afterward.

          8) Don’t worry about getting published right now

          By the time you’ve followed the previous seven steps, you will be in a pretty good place. Your story should be moving along, and maybe you’re thinking about publishing it. This is not the time to worry about it. You can’t sell a product you haven’t finished at this stage of the game. Worry about getting the book done first.

          Once the book is done and you’ve typed the words “The End,” walk away. Put it in a cabinet, a desk drawer, or anywhere you won’t be tempted to drag it out and mess with it. Leave it for at least two weeks and do something completely different to rest your weary cranium. (Many professional writers, like Stephen King, suggest a month to six weeks, but I think two weeks is plenty. Do what works for you, though.) After time has passed, print out your book and read through with a red pen. Notice any places where you have repetition, misspellings, or awkward working, and mark your copy appropriately. Next, rewrite. If you can cut without losing the flow of the story, do so. In the process of editing, sometimes an entire chapter goes to the wood chipper, but you’ll be a lot happier with the results.

          Improve Your Business Writing

            The best part is, once you’ve done all this, now you can start thinking about agents and publishers. When someone asks you what you do, you can look them in the eye with absolute confidence and tell them, “I’m a writer.” Don’t EVER use the word “aspiring.” You’ve done the work and you’ve got the product to prove it. You’ve earned the right to call yourself a writer. Be proud of it!

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            Last Updated on February 18, 2019

            13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

            13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

            Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

            Why is this so critically important to you?

            The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

            Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

            1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

            Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

            When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

            • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
            • The man facing the judge.
            • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
            • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
            • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
            • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

            These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

            Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

            Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

            2. Accept Your Fear

            Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

            We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

            And here’s what can be done.

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            3. Get Some Perspective

            I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

            And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

            That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

            We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

            So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

            • Are you really at risk?
            • Will this kill you?
            • Which leads us on to..
            • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

            4. Hold a Hand

            As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

            Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

            We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

            Ask yourself:

            • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
            • Could that really happen?
            • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
            • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

            By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

            5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

            This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

            Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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            The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

            It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

            For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

            Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

            6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

            I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

            Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

            Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

            Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

            Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

            Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

            7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

            Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

            I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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            It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

            One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

            Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

            It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

            8. Assume the Worse

            If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

            Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

            • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
            • Think about how they feel about champagne?
            • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

            And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

            When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

            Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

            9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

            If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

            Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

            Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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            10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

            One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

            11. Go with Fear

            When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

            I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

            Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

            One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

            However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

            We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

            12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

            And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

            The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

            What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

            13. Own Your Fear

            Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

            We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

            You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

            More Resources About Fighting Fear

            Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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