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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 January 3, 2020

            The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

            The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

            Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

            The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

            1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

            Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

             I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

            To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

            And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

             2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

            Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

            3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

            Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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            4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

            The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

            5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

            Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

            6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

            Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

            7. Positive people smile a lot!

            When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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            8. People who are positive are great communicators.

            They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

            9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

            One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

            10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

            Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

            How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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            I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

            Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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