21-Day Novel: Day 5

Coffee break novelistToday and yesterday were serious tests of the whole "Coffee Break Novelist" theory of writing.

When I wrote that book, the tl;dr of the idea (although of course I think it IS worth reading!) was that writing ISN'T something that requires huge blocks of time to accomplish. You can slip bits of writing in between the rest of your life and be a productive novelist. Even a highly productive one. Chris Fox - the inspiration for the whole 21-day novel challenge - might be a full-time writer now. But he wasn't always. He used to slip his writing in during his commute to and from work, working on a laptop.

In the time he had.

And that's what it's all about, for those of us who are not full time (yet!).

If we wait for a day when we're going to have great big blocks of uninterrupted time, that novel really WILL take years to complete. And frankly, if it takes most novelists 10+ novels before they can go full time, and if a rapid release pace (at least a few books a year) is what works for most full-timers, those of us aiming for full-time simply can't afford to wait for the moments when "the time is right".

When I made my schedule for this challenge, I blocked in ZERO words for Thursdays. That's because every Thursday I wake up around 6am, get to work by 7am, and don't leave work until almost midnight. I'm a nurse, working on a very busy sub-acute unit. I don't have a lot of time for writing while I am on the job, and that's a 17 hour work day.

But yesterday I still managed to sneak in 1500 words by writing on my breaks. Which put me about 1400 words ahead of my goal for the challenge.

Today I only had a nine hour work day. I fit in about an hour of writing before work, and then wrote during a break again. Got in 3017 words for the day, putting my challenge total at 19,409 words. I'm still 1400 ahead of schedule.

That doesn't mean I get to rest, though. The next two days are "days off": and I plan to write about 6000 words each day. I'm into Act 2 of the book, things are starting to rocket along, and the pace is picking up.

Some of you reading this are following along on the challenge, which is awesome. Some of you aren't, but I think most of you are working on some sort of book or you likely wouldn't be here. (Unless you loved Accord of Honor and are desperately waiting for the sequel - in which case, hang on, 'cause it's coming soon!)

Start looking at your life and instead of thinking about how busy you are, try to figure out spaces that you can slot a 15 or 20-minute writing period into. Even if you're not a fast typist - I can get in 800 words in a good twenty-minute sprint, but not everyone can - writing just 200 words a day adds up to a 70k novel a year. Fit in two short 200 word sprints a day, and you're up to two novels a year.

Novels are not about huge blocks. We write them the same way you eat an elephant: one bite (one sprint!) at a time.

As always, you can sign up for email updates on my progress - click the link below to join and follow along.

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