Finding the time to write a novel – Part 3: Structure


Earth symbolises materialism in certain aspects, while also being grounded and finding stability. It reflects a structured approach to writing, whereby everything is organised and planned for greater efficiency.

Where I would see Water as the Kairos of time, being more free flowing and finding the right moments to write, I see Earth as the Chronos of time, setting aside specific times of the day, week or month to get right down to it, come rain or high water. It resembles forming a routine to ensure that you get your writing done for whichever milestone you have put in place.

1. Refining the schedule

If you have a set objective to meet in terms of a deadline for your novel, you may want to develop a refined schedule. This not only means looking at which days of the week you intend to write and during which times, but it also means looking at what happens during your day that you feel you have no time to write. Even if you have a full-time job during which you cannot or may not write, you could come in an hour earlier or leave a little bit later and set that time aside. If you have a free lunch time, you could use that too (although, I advise against this if you have already been mentally active all day).

Refining the schedule also means weeding out the non-necessities in life. Enjoying playing the latest PS4 game when you come home? Ok, well just steal some time from that. You need to do the washing? Guess what, the machine kind of does that for you… while it washes, you can write. Is there a certain activity that you don’t need to do every day? Then writing can replace the alternate day.

Going back to scheduling your writing, there are many ways that this can be done, even as simple as creating an Excel doc with a calendar and jotting it down, or making an event on your phone’s calendar (I used to do these things back in the day until I realised I hated it and how it made me feel about writing – works for others though).

There is even handbook advice if you want to spend hard earned cash on intellectual knowledge with templates.One I saw that piqued my interested was “A Daily Planner for Authors” by Kristen A Kieffer available through Amazon. In the book she not only explains how to plan efficiently, but also establishes how to create effective monthly and weekly planners. I might not yet be so much into scheduling my writing, but I plan on getting this book just to see how it is done and thereby be able to guide others. It might even change my philosophy on the matter… anything is possible.

Ultimately, it comes down to time management and how badly you want to write that novel. If everything else is always going to take priority, your novel will never be completed.

2. Take measure

This is another key aspect that I learnt during the NaNoWriMo event. I had never bothered measuring my word-count per time period before the virtual write-ins. We would establish a time to write for, such as 15 minutes, and then once the clock had stopped we were to indicate how much we had written. It was less of a competition and more of a way to gauge our writing proficiency. I didn’t know words could flow so quickly when challenging yourself against time.

Since then, I have downloaded an Android app called ‘Writeometer’, or ‘Write-o-meter’, for my phone. It lets you establish the project / book name, and then gives you a clock count-down based on the period you put in. Once the clock stops, you insert the amount of words you typed. The app totals them up so that you always know where you stand in the novel, and also has a bar chart indicating how much you’ve written each day since you started the project. It isn’t essential, and there are many other such apps out there, but I quite enjoy having this one as my writing companion.

3. Give yourself a break

Back to brain and body health: give yourself a break every now and again if you are planning a long writing stint. If you have two hours to kill, write for 30 mins with 5 min break in between. The breaks could even be used to get those snacks and drinks, and thereby exercising the legs a bit. I found I was more productive and willing to write if I gave myself breaks than if I went for long stints and just tired myself out.

For those of us in the know, I’m very aware of the times when the passion really hits and you just cannot stop. I’ve had a four-hour stint like this and the writing just burnt my fingers through the keys as I just kept going. It’s sooooo bad… but so good at the same time. I only stopped because my bladder threatened to burst and then I saw how long I had been writing.

Look after yourself… take breaks.

Part 1: Inspiration
Part 2: Preparation
Part 4: Accessibility


5 thoughts on “Finding the time to write a novel – Part 3: Structure

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