You may call yourself a writer but when was the last time you sat down and wrote something, besides the grocery list or your name on a check? It's all too easy to come up with excuse after excuse. Are you telling yourself: I'll write when the kids are back in school. I'll write when my job doesn't take up so much time. I'll write when we get the new computer and I don't have to share. Or do you have another excuse?
Different writers have different writing schedules. Some will lock themselves in a room and not take a breath until their novel is finished. Others write for two hours every day from 10:00 AM to Noon, no matter what. And still others will work on a project for long stretches and then take a week or so off. Each of us follows the method that works best for us. Here are a few suggestions to get you going.
Pack up your excuses and decide that if you call yourself a writer then you'll get down to the business of writing. Laptops make it possible to write anywhere at anytime. However, it may be better to establish a regular schedule of where you will write and when. Choose a location that has good lighting, is quiet and doesn't have a lot of distractions.
Choose a time to write. It doesn't have to be every day, although that's probably best for establishing new habits. Set aside at least an hour. You might be thinking "How can I squeeze in an extra hour every day? My schedule is already overloaded." That's just your excuses talking. Don't listen to them. If something is important to you, you will find the time. Get up an hour earlier. Delegate some of your home chores to others. If you live alone, don't do some of those chores until after you've finished writing for the day. Skip watching an hour of TV at night. Take your laptop with you and use your lunch hour to write. Write on the commute to or from work, assuming of course, you're not doing the driving. One hour, 60 minutes, 360 seconds is not such a long time.
Focus on writing during that hour. No responding to emails, participating in chat rooms, bulletin boards or taking part in discussions online. The Internet is a wonderful resource and a terrific time waster. Use the restroom before you start. Take a cold drink with you to your writing desk. Put the phone on answer. Tell the kids and your significant other that you're not to be disturbed. Sit down in front of the computer and don't get up again until the hour has passed.
Start writing. If you have a writing project you're working on that's great, but feel free to pick something else if you're not in the mood to work on it. While you're establishing your new writing schedule what you write about is not as important as the fact that you're writing. Even the bestselling authors write one word at a time.
Consider re-creating a conversation from work, describe the scene outside your window, or how you felt during a special occasion. Write from the perspective of a young child, an old man, or even the family dog. Imagine yourself telling a good friend how to do something, or instructing a class in one of your hobbies.
Some new writers have the problem getting started writing because they expect the first draft to be as polished as the final draft. That's why a first draft is called a rough draft. If that sounds like you, give yourself permission to make mistakes. Don't go back and read what you've written until you completed an entire page, which is about 500 words.
Stick with your writing schedule for at least 3 weeks. It's been shown that it takes about 21 days to make a habit of something, or break an old habit for that matter. If you write for an hour a day for 21 days and you write about 1000 words each hour, you'll have written 21,000 words. Most books are between 50,000 and 100,000 words. In 21 days you'll have completed 20% of full length book manuscript. Now that wasn't so hard, was it? If you stick to a regular writing schedule, you'll be surprised how much progress you can make.