Home » Writing Advice » How Do You Eat an Elephant (or Write a Novel)?

How Do You Eat an Elephant (or Write a Novel)?

file000961296929At my dad’s graduation party some time ago, a guest asked what he wanted to do with his new bachelor’s degree.  Dad thought a minute and said he might like a graduate degree, but he was 50, and he’d be 53 before he finished it. The guest then reminded him he was going to be 53 in three years anyway, but he could be a 53-year-old with a graduate degree.

I remember that conversation every time a writer moans about not getting much writing time.

“Write anyway, even if just a little,” I say.

“But it will take me a year to finish a draft,” they reply.

“True,” I respond,   “but you’ll be a year older with a draft.”  Those few words every day add up.  Trust me on this.  I’ve even done the math for you:

WPD Chart png

Even 200 words per day will get you to 73,000 words in a year.  Depending on your genre, that’s a full draft right there.  It doesn’t matter if you only write one day a week and put your full word count on that day or write a little bit seven days a week.  It’s a cumulative effect, and the truth is, every writer writes the same way:  one word at a time.

In my opinion, the word count is less important than forming the habit of writing consistently (daily or what have you).  You can actually train your writerly mind to understand when it’s time to work.  Lots of us have done it.  But, as with any habit, it takes discipline until well established, and then discipline to maintain.  So what if it’s 30 minutes a day or two 15 minute sessions?  Form the habit.  The habit will produce the words.  Live your life while you write and before you know it, you have a draft.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

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