Writing a book can feel impossible when life has so many priorities. You’ve got some combination of work, school, exercise, hobbies, family, friends, pets, and sleep competing for your time. There’s also creativity-inhibiting stress, fear of failure, and who knows what else getting in your way. Above all, how are you supposed to be an author when you need a ‘real job’ to pay the bills?!
You can overcome all of this and launch a great career as an author. I did! A few years ago, I was a student slogging through a Computer Science degree, stressed to the point of tears, struggling to balance all of the above priorities and failing at basically all of them. Since then, I’ve published not just one book, but several, and now I’m negotiating movie rights with a talent manager, working on a graphic novel adaptation, I've signed a three-book deal with Entangled Publishing, and more. Here are a few tips that helped me go from stressed-out student to #1 Amazon bestselling author.
1. Schedule Time To Write Daily
For me, this meant getting up at 5:20 AM. Don’t say “ugh, too early” or “I don’t have time.” How important is your dream? You have the power to make it happen.
Writing first thing in the morning is prime time for a lot of people for a few reasons:
Your brain is in an uninhibited sleepy state that’s optimal for creativity.
The day’s activities haven’t leeched your energy yet.
The world is quiet and with minimal distractions.
Pick whatever time of day works for you and don’t let yourself skip it. If you genuinely don’t have time to write one day, just put in 10 minutes. Make sure you spend at least a few minutes thinking about your story every day so that it’s always fresh in your mind.
2. Write At Every Possible Opportunity
When you have an ambition, you've got to live and breathe it. Write between classes, on your lunch break, on the bus, while waiting for the kettle to boil—fitting in 5 minutes here and there makes a difference. It helps to write your book using a cloud service like Google Docs so you can access your manuscript on your phone. (Not to mention it's safely in the cloud if your computer crashes.)
Writing at every opportunity gets your brain thinking about your book during off-hours, and you’ll find that you randomly come up with solutions to plot problems or new ideas when you didn’t even realize you were thinking about your story.
3. Write Down Your Goal
For me, my goal was to be a bestselling author. I wrote this on the back of one of my mom’s business cards and put it in front of my alarm clock, so when my alarm went off at that godawful early hour, I would roll over and see it. Seeing my goal first thing in the morning was enough to motivate me to get out of bed at 5:20 AM. I also carried the card around with me so I would see it every time I went in my purse.
Write down an attainable, not-so-distant goal to remind yourself why you’re doing this! This will train your brain to accept no other truth, and you'll find yourself saying "yes" to every opportunity that gets you closer to it.
My goal, est. 2012, written in an uplifting present tense format to help it solidify as "truth" in my brain.
4. Save Motivational Statements, Playlists, And Image Boards
First, figure out what’s stopping you from writing, and then write down why this is a bad reason not to write. For me, this was “I don’t have enough time to write.” My counter-argument was “I have enough time to write. I have just as many hours in my day as J. K. Rowling does.” I wrote down this motivational statement on the inside cover of my diary, along with other statements and quotes that motivated me. We have blogs and podcasts coming up to help you learn how to overcome every obstacle that's stopping you from writing, so make sure you check back.
Second, imagine that you finish your book and it gets turned into a movie. Now save songs and images that will go in your movie! For every book I’ve written, there is at least one song that I imagine will be in its movie soundtrack, and when I hear that song, it gets me excited to write. It also helps to look at pictures of characters and settings and imagine how incredible it would be to see your book as a movie.
5. One Step At A Time
Writing and publishing a book feels overwhelming, but you can finish your draft and get published in a matter of months by doing it a step at a time. Stephanie and I are here to help you do that with our free resources and personalized coaching. We’re so excited to share our expertise with you and help you write and publish a wildly successful novel.
Get all of our step-by-step guides and writing tips delivered right to your inbox by becoming a member of the Blockbuster YA community. If you're interested in personal coaching, check out our programs and submit your application to tell us what your goals are.
Two years after writing down my goal, I was hugging the first print run of my #1 Amazon bestselling YA Fantasy novel, Ice Massacre (Mermaids of Eriana Kwai #1). This can be you!