Happy is the writer with a habit! If you want to learn how to write a book fast, it’s quite straightforward: write daily. Routine wins the race. Most of my writers follow the encouragement we give to have their writing sessions first thing, fresh from dreams, emboldened by coffee and in advance of the maddening crowds, the kids and the day job.
Part of our method for getting writers to complete their novels is blatant bribery. I suggest writers grant themselves a few perks during the writing process of the first draft and bribe themselves out of bed. Upgrade your coffee-making, get a few indulgent pastries in. (No one said you’d lose weight writing a novel.) The course has you prepare your time and space before you start writing so that you get out of bed and go somewhere really special to you.
It’s a great feeling to have your really important work out of the way before you attend to lesser emergencies! Don’t switch on that phone, don’t check email before you begin writing. Take one hour for yourself and you’ll see how enriching it is not just for your work in progress but for your wellbeing.
It’s not about an unattainable word count goal or your literal writing speed. And we don’t recommend you procrastinate for weeks and waste hours crafting a detailed outline. It’s just you and the blank page; use your writing time for yourself. You’ll get to the editing phase later. For now, let yourself enjoy the limitlessness of the rough draft (even if you want some sort of solid outline or writing plan before you dive into the writing process proper – it doesn’t need to be a blow-by-blow, you’ll only blow by it in the end).
Above all, our focus is on the good stuff, the joy of writing. After all, even though we all want to write faster, we do enjoy writing – that’s why we’re here. You’re never wasting time if you’re working on your book.
Hear from a graduate of our writing course
This week’s blog comes from our writer Linda in Zurich who has joined us for both The Classic Class and The Ninety Day Novel Class and lived the writing life while holding down a day job. Now that takes a disciplined routine!
The early bird that writes the novel: A case for embracing the magic of 5 am
The birds are chirping, and it takes me a moment to realise that the faint noise is coming from my alarm clock, marking the beginning of a new day, rather than actual birds, as I am gently drawn from my dreams.
I rub my eyes sleepily. My alarm clock reads 05.05. Trying to make as little noise as possible, I sit up, take a swig of water and carefully sneak out of the bedroom, so I don’t wake my partner, who is blissfully unaware of the magic about to happen ten feet away from him.
I waddle into the kitchen, put on the kettle and brew myself a large mug of Yogi tea. I hop into the shower where I spend an obscene amount of time daydreaming, kindling my imagination until it is fully ablaze and I’m consumed by the energy coursing through my body, buzzing with anticipation for what is about to transpire.
I wrap myself in a bathrobe and, at last, stand in front of the door that leads to my study: my library, my writing sanctum, my happy place.
I open the door and step into a different world.
I enter the valley of a pine forest, a murmuring creek bids me follow it. As I wander, I can’t fail to notice the beauty of the nature around me: the turquoise water at my feet, the treetops gently rocking above me, the birds tweeting and insects humming in the first hours of the new day. The terrain becomes rocky and my climb steeper and steeper. Above me, snow-covered mountain peaks bask in the first rays of sunshine.
A raven-haired girl descends from them towards me wearing khaki breeches, and boots. Across her front, diagonally, there is a leather strap. Spotting me, she narrows her eyes and draws a sword...
Good morning, writers!
All my life I’ve been a night owl. I am the type of person that just loses track of time and suddenly it’s midnight and you realise that you’ve been faffing on your phone, reading a book or binge-watching Netflix for a good part of the night.
I have become a bit more disciplined, or let’s say mindful, about how I spend my time over the years, making my need for a good seven to eight hours of sleep a priority most nights, but never going to bed before eleven.
At the same time, I have always been fascinated by early mornings. My job occasionally requires me to get up in the middle of the night to publish content on different social media sites (I work for an American company) and funnily enough I always love the days I get up at two or four and get on with my job, while the world is still sound asleep around me.
Over the years I made many half-hearted attempts to make getting up early a habit. Especially, as I got more into fitness, I sometimes needed to set my alarm clock as early as 5.30 am in order to get to the gym, work out for an hour, and still make it to work on time. I so desperately wanted to turn this into a habit!
But these rare morning workouts were always the exception and most mornings I would happily snooze until 7 am, silencing my 5.30 alarm sleepily, making excuse after excuse as to why I needed to sleep longer.
But then everything changed.
When I decided to write a novel I knew I couldn’t waste time
Once I had made the decision to finally write THAT NOVEL (or in my case an entire, potentially five-part, fantasy series), I realised that I needed to completely overhaul how I spend my days to fit in enough time for The Novelry lessons, story mapping, world-building and eventually writing – all while excelling at my high-paced full-time job, trying to keep up a regular exercise regime, finding the time to cook healthy meals and generally upholding the impression that I’ve got my shit together at the tender age of 34.
Now, we’ve all heard the stories of how geniuses get up around 5 am to write, and while I’d normally snort at the suggestion with derision, when Louise suggested trying it in the Ninety Day Novel Class, it got me thinking.
I had been making excuses for why I hadn’t been writing my novel for literally DECADES. I needed some drastic changes to accomplish my goal.
In the end, the decision was very easy to set my alarm clock to 5 am the very next day. And the next day. And the day after. I’ve managed to do this for a whole month now, with blissful lie-ins until 6.30 am on weekends.
It would be a lie to say that getting up this early is always easy, because – quite frankly – it can be quite a challenge at times, especially now that the days are getting longer and it is still dark when my alarm goes down. Nevertheless, I’ve learned to set up my mornings in a way to make it as easy and enjoyable for me as possible. And I completely agree that this is the best time for me to write.
My writing time
Here’s what I do:
My basic principle is to include as many nice things in my morning ritual as I possibly can.
It starts with a comforting, steaming cup of tea. Since I’ve weened myself off caffeine about two years ago due to alarmingly high stress levels, I am trying to limit caffeinated bevvies to a few times per week. And although I used to only drink tea sporadically it has now become an exciting part of waking up. I always have some fancy Yogi teas at home which are delicious and always have a friendly message on their tags.
Similarly, I won’t just ‘shower’. I’ll shower with a shower mousse that feels luxurious and smells divine, like they do in romance novels. I do this because it’s just nice having something to look forward to, even if you are still too tired to function.
My writing space
More importantly, I have worked hard to turn my writing space into my own little sanctuary where I feel completely at ease. I call it The Library because it’s filled with books: my favourite childhood books by Alcott, Dahl, Ende, Rowling and Tolkien, my favourite books from my uni days including anything from Austen to Woolf, quite a few works of non-fiction that have accumulated over the years, and my ever-growing Fantasy collection.
It is also the home of all my nerd gadgets (ye’re a wizard, Harry!), a bed for reading and a little desk for writing.
I make a big point to always keep it clean and tidy, even if the rest of the flat is dissolving into chaos. It is my little island of calm. It allows my thought processes to roam without the constraining stress of mess.
This space is something I had dreamed about since my early days at uni, reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own yearning for enough money and space to follow my creative heart.
Thirteen years later I finally have a steady job and a beautiful flat and enough discipline to make space for the yet secret worlds in my head.
My writing plan and routine aren’t set in stone
Every now and then, I’ll change up my ritual a little bit.
As already mentioned earlier, I try to exercise on the regular. With my novel project germinating every morning and frequently also at lunchtime, I was starting to struggle to get my cardio sessions in, as I always prioritise other kinds of workouts in the evening.
I was beyond excited when I found out about the new audio feature that was recently introduced to The Novelry, that lets you listen to your lessons as well as read them, lets you translate them to multiple languages and even offers a couple of different English accents (that would be Scottish for me!).
This meant that I could take my daily writing lesson with me onto the spinning bike that we have at home and thus kill two birds with one stone, by spinning and listening.
Exercise and creativity
Actually, that is grossly simplifying the process. Spinning also helps wake me up properly, and, next to multiple other health benefits, brightens my mood.
What’s more, research shows that cardio workouts stimulate certain parts of your brain that are linked with creativity. So, I might quite possibly be making myself more creative while I am also doing something good for my health. It’s like my own novel writing catalyser! Funny enough, I am typing this article into my phone as I am pedalling away happily, sweatily and a little bit creatively.
Know that you can write a book – however long it takes
We live in a pretty scary world.
We are constantly flooded with awful news and it is very easy to be overwhelmed by self-doubt and negativity – I know I have been for many, many years.
It is my goal to give myself the best possible chance to complete my book series. We all need a little encouragement sometimes. So I don’t put myself under pressure to write faster or force myself into a writing setup that makes me miserable. Instead, I work in a way that makes sense for me, and focus on writing a quality book. I choose positivity and a nurturing environment, where my fantasies can grow and take flight – while at the same time staying disciplined and focused.
I have never been as creative and creatively productive as I am at the moment and every time I get to enter my magical kingdom, I could weep tears of joy. I am finally home.
Get started with one of our creative writing courses today. Seize the day!