How to Find Your Book Writing Rhythm
Writing a book often takes longer than anticipated because many writers don't have a process or ritual that helps them work efficiently. All experienced writers develop a rhythm to their work with practice and experience. They do things to become more efficient and productive. They understand how they work, when they work best, and the different phases of the writing process—and they accomplish more as a result.
People often ask me about my writing process—when I write, how much, etc.—and how they can become more efficient and write faster. For me, the writing process involves the following phases.
The first stage of almost any writing project is, unfortunately, dawdling. Even professional writers hesitate to start writing. So don't beat yourself up if you have no idea where or how to start at first. The trick is not to let this initial hesitation overcome your ability to write what needs to be written. Using little rituals, like lighting a candle or pouring a fresh cup of coffee, associated with starting a writing session can help your brain transition from whatever you were doing to writing your book. You can also try setting a strict time limit for yourself—say ten or fifteen minutes of procrastination before you start writing.
Planning and Organizing
The next step is deciding what you want to say in the section of your book you’re working on. Before this point, you may have had a general idea, but now you need to actually figure out the message you want to communicate and the best way to do it. This step will be a lot easier if you write down all your ideas first, without evaluating or censoring them. Then you should select only those ideas that are essential to the topic and organize them within a solid structure that satisfies your ideal readers.
Writing the draft comes next and, if possible, you should write the whole first draft without editing your work. This obviously doesn’t work as well for longer pieces like books, but you should avoid editing yourself until you have a complete chapter draft. Otherwise you can get stuck on details before the overall picture comes into focus. Resist the temptation to get each word right the first time. Expect the first draft will be rough, and revisions will always be required.
Finding Your Rhythm
All writers develop a rhythm with experience and practice. However, because writing is a creative process, it cannot be fully systemized. You cannot expect turn out copy with the same precision and degree of excellence every time. Still, by working out a system that you can live with and one that works reasonably well, you can expect to have reasonable degree of proficiency.
Remember that writing processes vary from writer to writer, and even a writer that uses the same system over and over may vary their approach from time to time. It's difficult to pin something like writing down and give it an exact schedule that can be counted on again and again. Still, most writers go through the procrastination, planning, and drafting phases with each project.
As a new writer, the key is to stick with it and be conscious of what you actually do when you sit down to write. When you know what it takes to get the job done, you’ll be able to write faster and more efficiently.
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