Making Time to Write

It is impossible to find time to write. As with any meaningful activity, you must make time. If I live in a passive or reactive mode, my time will always be filled with the needs of other people or my own base desires. It is only when I choose to proactively assert myself that I can get anything done.

I choose to write from the time I put my son to bed until I go to bed. This gives me 1.5 to 3 hours every evening to think and write. I will occasionally have meetings or other social engagements that take up that time, but I can generally count on being in my study at least 3 nights a week.  I’ve found that 2 to 3 hours is about my max for really intense and focused concentration.

I’m also finding that I must steward my attention better if I’m going to be a productive writer. Time is meaningless without attention. I’ve saved myself a lot of distraction by not having the internet in my home, but I’m also finding that I need to be better about protecting my attention during the day. I recently watched a TED Talk by Dr. Cal Newport called Quit Social Media and have been inspired to guard my attention more carefully.

I also find that writing is more appealing when I know what I’m going to write about. Sitting down at my desk with a blank piece of paper and an internal void is a recipe for disaster. So whether it is the Snowflake method or Self Publishing School’s Mind Map –> Organize –> Write  method, I always try to know what I’m going to write about and what I want to say about it. This isn’t always the case. In fact, sometimes I plan out one writing session and end up writing about something totally unrelated, but I don’t mind. The plan is there for next time.

Discipline is the seed bed of inspiration. I don’t always feel like writing, but once I start I can almost always get excited about it. If I’m still not excited after 20 minutes of writing then I give myself permission to quit. I grabbed this idea from my weightlifting career. Sometimes your body feels tired and is lying. Sometimes your body feels tired and really does need rest. But the only way to know for sure is to show up and start working. Some of my greatest workouts were the ones I wanted to skip because of feeling “tired.” Sometimes “tired” is just a fear of greatness, a self-defense mechanism designed to keep us in line with the status quo. Showing up and doing the work is the cure.

For the aspiring writers out there, here are my takeaways:

  • Make time to write. You will never find it.
  • Creative work is best done in 2-3 hour chunks. It can’t be cobbled together in spare moments.
  • Discipline is critical to your success. Make writing a habit.
  • No matter how you feel, show up and do the work.
  • Know what you are going to write about in advance.
  • Guard your attention zealously.
  • Writing and editing are two very different experiences and shouldn’t be combined.
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Self Publishing School

I’ve wanted to be an author since my mom first read me The Chronicles of Narnia when I was in third or fourth grade. I marveled at how words could conjure up images and emotions and communicate ideas. When we first got an in-home computer, one of the first things I learned to do was use the word processor. I’m pretty sure my first book idea was a series called The Unicorn Chronicles. I don’t think that is ever going to make it to print…

Since that time, the idea of being a writer has always bubbled in the back of my mind. Starting this blog was one attempt to satisfy that desire, but it didn’t quite hit the spot. Then I stumbled across Self Publishing School on Facebook.

For the price of my email address, I received an ebook called Book Launch and a four-part video teaching series designed to help me write and self-publish an ebook. I listened to the first video and read the book in an afternoon. I was so fired up afterwards that I started typing that same evening.

Chandler Bolt, the founder of Self Publishing School, made writing and publishing simple and clear. He broke down the different phases into the perfect size – not too small as to seem tedious, and not so large as to discourage execution. He made the whole process seem entirely doable. And it was.

I wrote the rough draft for Doing Good While Doing Well: Where Faith and Finance Meet in 10 days, from Nov. 17 through Nov. 27, 2016. Start to finish, from blank page to available in the Amazon store, the whole process took 46 days. Now, I will be the first to admit that my book is not the most amazing book you will ever read. But it is short, actionable, and filled with information that has been transformative for me.

My goal in writing DGWDW was to build my writing chops and demystify the whole self-publishing process. Chandler’s book was a great help with that. The quote that stuck with me and helped push me through such a blistering pace was “Done is better than perfect.” As someone who has dreamed of becoming an author for a long time, this was the perfect set up for me to succeed. Going through the process has only increased my desire to write because I now know how easy it is to get books out and in circulation.

For anyone who dreams of becoming a published author, Self Publishing School is the way to go. While I did not pay to go through the 90 course, I think it would be valuable if you feel like you need someone to help you clarify your ideas and hold your hand through the process. If you have a pretty clear idea of what you want to write about, and have the self-discipline to make yourself do it, the ebook Book Launch is enough.

I loved the process and am eager for more.

I look forward to reading your work soon.

Ben