L.A. Kennedy

Beyond the story

by Erika Bennett

To say we’re living in a weird time is an understatement. Coronavirus (COVID-19) has a majority of our lives on pause, leaving us with a lot of extra time we didn’t have before. To all my writers, if you’ve ever dreamed of writing a book now is the perfect time to get started—and finish!

1. Build a schedule.

We all need some normalcy in our lives right now and routines are a great way to infuse some comfort into our days. Create a writing schedule that includes time for research, character building, outlining, and actual writing. If you give yourself enough time each week, you can absolutely write an entire first draft in 8 weeks.

2. Prepare.

Focus on creating character profiles, outlining your chapters, and collecting all the research you’ll need before you start writing. This will help you in the long run because you won’t have to pause your writing to gather more information or create a new character. You’ll already have all this information compiled, so you can stay focused on writing.

3. Schedule writing time.

After all your pre-planning is done, create a daily writing schedule. Now that most activities are canceled or postponed due to COVID-19, you should have more time than ever to dedicate some time each day to working on your book.

4. Create a writing zone.

Designate a specific place in your home for writing. It doesn’t have to be huge and it doesn’t even need to include a desk, but choose a place and go there for each block of writing time. This will help trigger your brain that it’s time to write when you are there.

5. Set healthy boundaries.

You may not be huddled up at home alone for self-isolation and may have family and small children around, making it more difficult to focus on your writing project. Create healthy boundaries with your family about your writing time. Once they see how important your writing time is to you, they’ll fully support the distraction-free time you need to complete your manuscript.

6. Stay inspired.

It may feel extra difficult to feel inspired these days since many of us are staying home and it feels like much of the world is closed. However, staying inspired is important to your writing routine. So, go for a daily 30-minute walk and pay attention to your surroundings. Listen to a fun, new podcast while you fold laundry. Read a book about writing. Or even try a new exercise class online. These activities can help you stay inspired.

7. Use your time wisely.

It’s extremely tempting to lay around watching TV for extended amounts of time these days, but don’t put that extra time toward something that doesn’t advance your writing goals. Use your time wisely, so you’ll have a finished manuscript by the end of self-isolation.

8. Join a virtual critique group.

Working in a vacuum is no fun and can often lead to self-doubt. Since we’re already practicing social distancing in a physical sense, use technology instead to connect with other writers in a virtual critique group. There are tons of groups on Facebook or you can even create your own critique group with friends and family who also want to write.

9. Don’t get caught up in editing.

It’s inevitable that your inner self-editor will want to come out while you’re writing. But try to avoid going down a rabbit hole when it comes to editing your work, you should be focused on writing. Get all your words on paper first, then go back and begin the editing and revising process.

10. Clear your head.

There is a lot going on in the news every day due to COVID-19 and it’s easy to become overloaded on the information. So, be sure to take some time away from the news a little bit each day and do activities that clear your mind. Having a clear head creates extra space for great ideas to blossom.

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