Writing Analytics
Blog | 10 May 2021

How to Write a Book When You Don't Have Enough Time?

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‘I wish I had more time to write,’ is the most common complaint writers have. Writing a book takes time. Learning to write well takes a long time, most of which you won't be directly compensated for.

Most writers launch their careers while working a full-time job to pay the bills. They get up early and stay up late to pour as much time as they can into their writing projects. It's hard work. Eventually, tensions develop. Compromises have to be made. It's harder to focus and put words on the page. Time becomes the aspiring writer's arch enemy.

Productivity declines further until the whole endeavour becomes unsustainable. The writer burns out and stops writing for months and even years.

It doesn't have to be that way

Racing against time is a fool's errand. The good news is that you don't have to. You can use time to your advantage, no matter how much you have. If you can write for 15 minutes a day, you can finish a novel within a year.

Using time to your advantage

It doesn't matter if you write every day or every other day as long as you write to a schedule. Even as little as 15 minutes a day will create a paradigm shift in what you can achieve as a writer.

The challenge of writing 80,000 or even 120,000 words for a full-length novel may seem insurmountable, but as long as you stick to a regular writing schedule, you will get to the finish line eventually.

Once you've acquired the discipline to write to a schedule, time becomes your friend. The more days and weeks go by, the more words you'll have. You no longer have to wrestle with other responsibilities, trying to find more time to write.

In this post, we'll give you the tools to help you become a more disciplined writer.

Sustainability is key

It's tempting to aim high and start with an ambitious goal. This is the first mistake writers make when setting up a writing routine. If you're struggling to hit those goals, you're more likely to skip days and eventually quit altogether.

Your writing routine must be sustainable. Set your goal to a number that you can comfortably hit day after day. Have only 15 minutes to write every day? Aim to write between 100 to 250 words. It may not seem like much, but over time these will add up to substantial numbers. At 250 words per day, you'll write over 90,000 words in a year.

If at any point you start struggling, don't be afraid to scale your goal back temporarily. Your writing routine has to adapt to your circumstances.

Track Your Progress

As weeks and months go by, there will be times when you will feel demotivated. The end will be nowhere near in sight. You will feel like you're treading water, not getting anywhere.

Writing a book is one of the most extreme forms of delayed gratification. You may work hard for years without having anything to show for it.

Tracking your words and how much time you've spent writing, building writing streaks and celebrating big milestones along the way is a great way to stay motivated throughout the process.

We've built Writing Analytics to do exactly that. Our editor tracks these metrics automatically behind the scenes. Simply write your draft, and the data will be there when you need them. Writing Analytics also has a habit tracker and a reward system to help you celebrate important milestones along your writing journey.

Stay accountable

Unless you have a publishing deal lined up, writing your book will be an entirely self-motivated endeavour. If you skip a few days, nothing bad will happen. If you write 35,000 words and quit, you won't have to answer to anybody.

Many writers join a writing group or enlist a trusted friend to keep them accountable. However, this doesn't work for everyone. You may not be ready to share that you're working on a book with anyone yet.

In that case, use as many self-accountability tools as you can get. Schedule your writing sessions in advance, put them on your calendar to make it more likely that you'll follow through.

If you use Writing Analytics, create a project for your book, set a goal and writing schedule. The app will remind you how many words you're due to write every day. It will also email you a weekly report detailing how well you did against your goals in the past week.

Never skip two days in a row

We all fall off the wagon sometimes. There's no need to beat yourself up when it happens. Don't be complacent either. The novelist and long-distance runner Haruki Murakami has a simple rule: never skip two days in a row.

The first time it's a mistake. Two mistakes in a row start a pattern. When you miss a writing day, do everything you can to get back on track the next day. The longer you let your writing routine slide, the harder it will be to get it going again.

Final thoughts

Contrary to what it may seem, the process of writing a book is quite unremarkable. The magic is waiting at the end for those who persevere. When you get there, you will find it hard to believe what you've accomplished.

Writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint. Don't race against time. Create a sustainable writing routine and use it to your advantage.