Lots of people think they would like to write a novel. Not many of them will ever actually do it. One excuse often given is that the person simply doesn’t have the time. They are busy with a full-time job. They are busy raising their family. They are busy, busy, busy.
Well, every novelist I know is busy, busy, busy. Most of them have families. Some of them have other full-time jobs.
When I began writing my first novel in March 1981, I had two pre-teen daughters and an 8 to 5 day job. In fact, that was my “condition” for most of the next nine years. In January 1990, the month my ninth novel was released, I quit my day job. I had a year’s salary in the bank, and I gave myself that one year to see if I could write full-time without starving to death. I’ve been at it ever since.
The thing is, I treated my writing like a “real” job even when it was only part-time. I never waited for the “muse” to show up. I put my fanny in the chair and I wrote, whether or not I felt like it. This is what my weeks looked like back then:
- Monday-Thursday, I got home from work around 5:30 and prepared supper for the family. After supper, my daughters usually did the dishes and I headed down to my office, writing from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. I had an “open door policy,” meaning my girls could interrupt me for anything that needed my attention. They just weren’t supposed to interrupt me if they were squabbling.
- Saturday mornings were usually spent writing while the rest of the household slept in, especially when the girls were teenagers.
- Friday evenings, Saturday afternoons, and all day Sunday were reserved for family activities.
With the above routine, I averaged a book every 10 months from early 1985 to January 1990.
One thing I tell writers who feel they just can’t write a novel due to lack of time, although they claim they want to, is this: If you write one page per day, you will have a 365 page manuscript at the end of one year. That’s approximately 73,000 words. Most novels today run between 70,000 and 100,000. (Yes, there are plenty of exceptions, but that’s a good rule of thumb.)
Every family is different, of course, but if you have a burning desire to write a novel, don’t make excuses. There is always a way to do what you want, even if it has to be done in moments here and there.
And now I’d better get back to my revisions with the hope of making this manuscript better than it was when I turned it into my editor.