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My Freedom Flame

Motivating Writers Worldwide

Tag: novel writing

How to Create a Killer Novel Writing Schedule

Schedule for Long-Term Success

Both experienced and aspiring authors have a rough time creating a sound novel writing schedule for long-term success. Most attempt to work around their daily schedule which may change at will. What ultimately happens is a novelist’s plans for writing will break down.

 

For a path to success in any field, especially one that dictates scalable income like writing (where you’re not getting paid for working), you’ll need to juggle your budding writing career with a full-time job. If you have a set work schedule as I now do, this isn’t as tough.

 

But if you’re in the crowd who has an unpredictable work schedule, you’re also in luck because I spent seven years of my life with a work schedule that led me every which way but straight. From a produce clerk to a personal trainer, my schedule changed by the day, sometimes by the hour.

 

So today, as I venture off into a set schedule of full-time work, I’m going to show you some tips you can utilize to make the most out of your writing schedule.

 

Trust me, with seven years’ experience battling scheduling curveballs, sliders, and knuckleballs, it’s been one wild ride when writing Northern Knights and my freebie novellas.

 

One: Stick to a Single Sacred Schedule

Step one, find a time each day during your workdays to write. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a paragraph, a page, or a few pages.

 

I like the early morning or late evening technique but some of us who work alternating shifts might not have this available. Scheduling your writing time before or after work might be best.

 

I once had a strange schedule where I often worked split shifts. Here, I was able to write in between my work times, whatever time I had. There were times I’d be finished with my first shift at noon and wouldn’t have any more work until five. Other times, I was finished early and came back to work later on, at sixish.

 

Some of us who work split shifts may only have a couple hours in between, as I have now with my new set schedule. If your place of work has lockers you can stow your laptop in it and write on your break.

 

If you’re uncomfortable with bringing your laptop to work, you can always head home and write for an hour if you live nearby.

 

If no option is available, you can always bring a notebook with you and brainstorm ideas while on a break. What’s cool here is you can do this during even your fifteen-minute breaks.

 

Two: Use Off-Days

On days you’re off, make writing a priority. You may have obligations but first, treat writing like it’s a second job. Knowing this, you need to act as if writing consists of regular work hours.

 

If you’re used to say, working in the morning, write in the morning for an hour or so. If you’re an evening worker, do this in the evening.

 

Plan your off days ahead of schedule and stick to the schedule you’ve given yourself. So, if you’re scheduling your off day to write in the morning, write in the morning and don’t deviate. If someone else tries to throw you a curveball, tell them you have personal commitments.

 

Whatever you do, DO NOT deviate from your schedule. Unless there’s an emergency, you need to prioritize your writing.

 

Three: Bring Fun Work to Work

Yep, writing is work but it should be fun work. Even the self-editing process should be fun. So, if you have a nice break in the middle of the day and have a safe space to put your laptop, go ahead and have at it.

 

And again, if you don’t like taking your laptop to work, just bring a notebook and brainstorm, take notes, map out scenes, outline, still find ways to contribute.

 

In my old job, I had a schedule where I saw clients but might have an hour or so in between. So, I was able to usually avoid the curveballs, sneak into my office, close the door, and write.

 

Oh, and if you can get away with this at work, why not give it a shot? Nick Stephenson did this often during his early writing career.

 

Four: Sacrifice Entertainment

Wait, sacrifice the TV?

 

Yep! TV, movies, Netflix, everything except your favorite sports team playing. But avoid watching the other games.

 

And isn’t it ironic to sacrifice entertainment for entertainment you’re creating?

 

This isn’t much of a trade-off, but people have a tough time doing so. The first thing to do is not just turn off the TV but unplug it.

 

Internet?

 

Obviously we can’t get rid of internet and both Twitter and Facebook can be tempting. As can Pinterest these days.

 

So, if you just can’t get rid of surfing the internet, why not schedule a five-minute internet break for every twenty-five minutes of writing.

 

Being an internet junkie myself, I understand the pain. But, by taking five minutes every twenty-five minutes, this will help keep the mind fresh. You can take a break from all the writing and editing cramming your mind for some peace of mind, which does wonders for the mind.

 

Write it Down

Yes, write your schedule each week. Either have a nice, big, paper calendar as shown in the featured image at the top of this article or you can go all tech-savvy and use your phone. Also, don’t just schedule it on your calendar, schedule reminders on your phone anyway.

 

You’re going to find long-term success here if you schedule your time accordingly and keep it uniformed. Yes, it’s tougher for those of us who work jobs with crazy work schedules and even jobs that are demanding and keep us at work for hours on end.

 

So, write out your schedule ahead of time, stick to it, incorporate what I’ve outlined above and soon you’ll go from stagnation to improvement. And this is the first step in the road to novel writing success.

 

 

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Novel Writing Tips: How to Survive the Marathon of the Middle

Four Tips to Survive the Marathon of the Middle

The first of my many novel writing tips will discuss surviving a dreaded marathon of the middle. For novel writers, this is going to be a tough task early on, especially as you take my advice on omitting needless words and backstory.

 

Some of you may ferociously self-edit, as Jerry Jenkins loves to state, and find yourself with a novella or even a novelette after such a hardcore edit.

 

How am I going to write a full-length novel, you might ask.

 

Okay, sit down, breathe, and admire your handiwork. Your story is great and now you have an opportunity to improve your masterpiece.

 

The following are four tips to help you survive the Marathon of the Middle.

 

Tip One: Use an Outline

Okay, I’m going to admit my own hypocrisy. I deviate from my outline. I love writing by the seat of my pants.

 

BUT! We all need to at least write a synopsis even if we’re not natural outliners.

 

Why?

 

Because when we write ourselves into a corner, we’re going to require a writer’s safety net.

 

A novel outline can save us from staring at a blank screen with a blank mind.

 

Writer’s block?

 

That’s why you need an outline.

 

If anything, scribble ideas for your work on a sheet of paper or Word document so when you get stuck halfway through writing a novel (this will happen) you have a nice fall back plan.

 

If you haven’t done so, get started on writing your outline today before you do anything else.

 

Tip Two: Create a Subplot

In Northern Knights, I took a page from J.K. Rowling and inserted the sport shotball into my work, much like Rowling used Quidditch.

 

In a novel that would’ve been novella length, I surpassed 77,000 words with such a subplot that many of my initial readers loved to the point they wanted to start a pickup game!

 

Maybe after high school football ends in a few weeks.

 

Anyway, opening a subplot can do wonders for your work. If you can relate such a subplot to the main plot, you’re really cooking.

 

Think of your main character’s hobbies and interests (I hope you thought of these!) and you have a potential subplot in the making.

 

Love triangles? Sibling rivalry? The list for subplots is endless.

 

Tip Three: Insert Conflict

When writing my second full-length, Swords of Destiny, inserting conflict worked wonders.

 

Any time you feel your novel is slowing down, hand it a nice shot of conflict. For instance, Swords of Destiny is about a modern-day war with fantasy-based elements, so an unexpected surprise attack or battle scene kept my novel going.

 

Maybe your characters just ran from the bad guys, or thought they did? Maybe they thought they were safe in their new hiding place?

 

Surprise your characters, surprise yourself with intuition, and surprise your readers. Oh, and the latter may love the surprise so much they may use a free book promotion technique called word-of-mouth. I heard it works well.

 

This technique is at its hottest in science fiction, fantasy, mystery, action, suspense, and thriller genres, but can also be inserted into any genre you like.

 

Since genre fiction sells better than any other type of work, you have the potential to break through the novella length by utilizing action scenes and conflict to their finest if you’re a genre writer.

 

Tip Four: When in Doubt, Think Action

Keep the plot moving. This means describing characters in action rather than using ‘he said’ ‘she said’ dialogue tags.

 

As an added bonus, your reader will be able to picture your characters in action while speaking.

 

Think of your favorite TV shows and movies and write about how they move and interact during dialogue. You can even watch your favorite TV show or movie with a notepad in hand if you really want to get into the action.

 

Read over what you wrote and it’llĀ  give you real life insight on how you best construct scenes when writing your own dialogue with action.

 

For instance, Cain closed his eyes and exhaled before turning to Lira, his jaw twitching. “What?

 

Lira indicated the others. “Micah, Blaze, Asha, Jed, and I want to do something drastic.”

 

Cain narrowed his eyes and crossed his arms. “Like?”

 

Lira paced ahead. “We want to change the name of the Santos Knights.”

 

The above reads better than this:

 

“What?” Cain said.

 

“Micah, Blaze, Asha, Jed, and I want to do something drastic,” Lira said.”

 

“Like?”

 

“We want to change the name of the Santos Knights.”

 

There’s nothing wrong with the second dialogue scenario but the reader isn’t getting in on the action like they would in the first example.

 

Whenever you sit down to write ask yourself how you can utilize action in favor of dialogue tags so the reader can form a clearer picture in their mind.

 

You’ll be surprised how much better your work reads when you’ve crafted such action-packed scenes, even if the action is minor.

 

You’re A Survivor!

If you follow these tips you’ll have survived the Marathon of the Middle. And I mean that, because when writing a novel, the marathon is tough and not everyone emerges standing firm.

 

Utilize the above novel writing tips to your advantage if you’re stuck in the middle and are about to hit the dreaded wall, as marathon runners term when one has run out of gas.

 

Writing a full-length novel by creating more action-packed scenes along with a solid outline, tension, and compelling subplot will keep the reader engaged.

 

It’s a much better alternative than using needless words, adverbs, and hedging verbs (almost smiled, waved half-heartedly) to fill a specific word count quota.

 

Not only will your writing shine, but it’ll shine so bright you’ll separate yourself from the endlessly growing crowd of new authors. We all want a piece of the pie in attaining a readership and action plus a roadmap is the most direct way to go.

 

I’d like to thank everyone for coming across My Freedom Flame. Please come back soon for more novel writing tips, influences behind my latest works, and how you can better manage your time to finally write the dream novel you’ve always wanted to write.

 

 

 

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