We must ask ourselves:
- Am I devoted to my manuscript/story?
- Am I willing to devote time to my manuscript/story?
Again, I want to add that I am not yet a published author, and I'm currently working on my first manuscript. So these tips I'm sharing with you are just things I've been learning along the way!
And now for the S in the CSG plan: Schedule.
One of my New Year's resolutions for 2011 is to finish my manuscript by May 31st. But I know that this year will be no different from any other previous year in fulfilling this dream if I don't actually sit down and write. Thinking about the story, planning the plot, and doing research are all wonderful and necessary activities, but if I'm ever going to have something to hand to an editor or agent, all those thoughts, plans, and historical tidbits are going to have to make their way from my mind to my computer!
Now, a writing schedule can look different for each person. For example, a full-time published author (ie: an author who writes for a living) would most likely want to schedule in hours of writing almost every day. But for those who are working full-time at another job or are full-time students, writing every day is not only a daunting and frightening idea, but it's also impractical.
So what are those of us in the second category supposed to do? To be honest, it depends. Sometimes we have to wait, because writing can't be a top priority then. God, family, and work must come first. But sometimes we actually do have the time, but until now we've chosen to fill it with other activities that are definitely not priorities.
This semester, the opportunity has presented itself to me, and so I've made a schedule. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning, I sit down in front of my laptop and type. My goal is usually at least 700 words, but sometimes I write a little less or a little more. The point is that the goal is practical, and I'm getting something onto that blank page. I think it's important to celebrate those small victories!
Since I had already written a good "chunk" of my story before beginning this new year, I think this schedule will help me meet my goal of finishing my manuscript before June. (After that--editing, polishing, and writing a proposal!)
Sometimes the words don't really flow well. I have to sit for a while and write bit by bit. A walk can be inspiring, and, of course, spending devotional time with God beforehand.
The point is, no matter how much I write or how much time I can set aside, I need to write. Pray, and then just do it! I think you'll be surprised by the results. On days when I think that a scene isn't going to turn out very well because I started out with only a vague idea in my mind, I am often excited by what ends up on the page.
And why is that? First of all, God is in control, and if He wants this story to be told then I just need to tell it and trust Him to work all the details out to His glory. And second, I personally feel devotion for this story.
If you love your characters and the story they're a part of, then you'll be drawn into their world and your love will show through your words. Your devotion will keep you going and help you stick to your schedule. So don't be afraid to keep your devotion on a schedule!
Do you have a writing schedule, whether you're published or unpublished? Does it work well for you? If you don't have a schedule, can you think of certain days of the week when you can set aside time just for writing?
(If you can't already tell from the pictures I included, I'm a fan of certain PBS Masterpiece programs/movies! These are characters a person can fall in love with for sure! The images are from the PBS Masterpiece website.)