Finding the time to write a novel – Part 1: Inspiration


The fire element has always been seen in religious and esoteric wisdom as the key symbol of passion, will and determination. It is hidden in common phrases such as “stoking the fire” or “igniting the spark” inside of you. If you are keen on finding the time to write, the first thing you need to do is inspire yourself to do so.

I want to emphasise inspiring yourself over finding inspiration elsewhere as the most principle activity to be taken first. I don’t know why, but people seem to find this hardest task to do. The reason I am giving this advice is simply due to the fact  that if you solely attempt to be inspired by others, then when those inspirations disappear you will just revert back to feeling unmotivated and uninspired.

No matter what anyone tells you… you have the power within you to inspire yourself. The only one that can limit your ability to do so is yourself.

1. Visualisation

Some of the greatest techniques I picked up as a teenager was visualisation and it has helped me in so many aspects of my life. In terms of writing, visualisation occurs when you start imagining and creating your story in your mind. Even if you are halfway through your book and feeling uninspired to write, just visualise what must still happen in your book and what could potentially change.

Daydreaming about your story is one of the ultimate methods in exciting yourself towards a writing frenzy. It enables you to mentally “work” on your novel wherever you are. Just be careful that it is appropriate to do so… someone in the real world may be vying for your attention.

On the other side of the scale, I’ve heard and read a few times that if your story is not exciting you, then there is the potential for the reader to be even less excited about it. Visualisation is a great way to play around with new ideas and maybe change certain aspects that will further enhance the plot.

2. Sacred place & time

Setting aside a certain place for your writing helps set the mood for writing. After spending some time writing there, your brain becomes wired to the idea that that is your writing space. Walking towards it should already give you a sense of purpose, the desire to hack a few thousand words away in the space of an hour.

How you create the space is also very important. If the space is cluttered and messy, chances are that you will feel rather despondent towards writing (unless a cluttered space gets your brain going). A lesson I learnt is that once you unclutter your physical workspace, it helps towards uncluttered your mental space. You can create further ambience by adding things that you love. In lieu of the awesome study I would love to have in my house one day, I created a bonsai area on my back porch whereby I can write while being surrounded by the natural elements. Spending time with my bonsais has become the equivalent of master creativity.

I don’t have a strict rule on time set aside for writing, not in the practical sense of time. If I may go back to my youth for a moment and expound on Saint Thomas Aquinas’s explanations of time in relation to God, there is the practical/scientific time as we know it as defined by the sun and the moon, and there is the qualitative or abstract time defined by moments experienced by an individual. In Greek mythology, these two aspects of time are called Khronos and Kairos respectively.

I am hesitant to set aside a specific time for writing, as with a busy life many things could happen and I just don’t get to it. This failing to meet my personal set times has brought me down many times in the past. It also starts making writing feel like a chore. I’d rather have some qualitative moments whereby I can enjoy my writing, such as weekend mornings when I get up early to tend to the animals and the family is still asleep – the birds are chirping by my bonsai setting and the sun has just risen. Who could ask for a more beautiful setting? Or, I just finished my gym session and have settled down at the Virgin Active’s inside canteen area for a juice – open the tablet and jot down some ideas. Or, I am in bed and can’t sleep and my head is swarming with ideas. There are always moments available that can be set aside for writing.

I’ve heard many good things about specific, chronistic time aside to write to get your mind into the right frame, so if that works for you then go for it.

3. Verbal arousal

The one thing that excites others about my books is when I started talking to them about it. When someone asks “So how is it going with your writing?”, it starts a cataclysm of verbal verbosity that is hard to put an end to. For even those that have never (or thought they would never) read epic fantasy, just my explanations and the excitement in my voice has been enough to inspire them to read my books. Some of my friends that really enjoy seeing me happy and excited have asked me about my books and writing if only to see me inspired to write again.

A note on this point, and any other that pertains to reaching out to others: be wary of the emotional and mental vampires. Sometimes people are in such a rut in their life that they cannot help but only see the darkness they are surrounded in. There are people that will unfairly criticise your ideas just to bring you down to their level. Don’t be hard on them, they’ve forgotten what the light looks like. I’m not referring to those that offer constructive criticism to broaden your ideas, but rather those that bitterly just wish to suck the joy out of your life. There is a myriad of advice I could give on how to deal with them with sufficient examples… suffice it to say: be wary of them.

4. Group orgy

As has often been said through the eons by the protests of both men and women, kings and queens: this is not what it looks like. I was privileged during the NaNoWriMo event to meet many writers in Cape Town, since we were all subscribed to the regional writing events that took place. This gave us the opportunity to either meet up somewhere and have coffee together while working on our stories, or login to the virtual online writing event where we could chat in a chat room and then challenge each other to a timed word-race. It is strange for someone as introverted and socially-challenged as me to admit that these group events were some of the more enjoyable highlights of my life and really spurred me on to take my writing more seriously. I doubt I will ever see another group that enjoys each other’s silent company as much as this one. We now have ‘whatsapp’ and Facebook groups where we can encourage and inspire each other to write on a daily basis.

5. Writing Communities

In a similar vein as above, online public writing communities provide a host of inspiration. Some groups happily share ideas online about stories, hoping to develop their plots or characters further. These forums offer great advice for first time writers, and there is always a great chance that they will inspire you to find the time to write. I generally steer away from these, yet I can’t help but share the benefit it may have to your writing.


Part 2: Preparation
Part 3: Structure
Part 4: Accessibility



6 thoughts on “Finding the time to write a novel – Part 1: Inspiration

  1. I can relate fully to your post. When I return to my book and start reading to edit and immerse myself into the story to continue writing, I get excited every single time. It’s such a strange, but very good feeling and it reminds me that I am on the ‘write’ (no pun intended) track. I am out for the whole day so I will catch all your other posts later as I’m sure they are as insightful as this one.

    Liked by 1 person

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