People often ask me: how do I find the time to write books when I am working full time? I am tempted to tell them I have superpowers. Not true. My secret is that I write in spurts. Since I am a junior high teacher, I have had to develop time-effective strategies to get words on paper. Or, in my case, on my laptop.
But, the most important thing you should remember is that you can always revise mediocre writing. You cannot revise a blank screen or page. So write. Every day. No matter what. Even if it is just a page or two. One page a day will lead to a book in a year’s time. Two pages a day will lead to a book in six months. It all comes down to following Nike’s advice: just do it.
Here are some “tricks” I use to pound out a manuscript (and I must admit that the first draft is my least favorite part of writing. But I love revising and tweaking):
• Write the ending first. That way, you know what it is your hero or heroine desire. Next, write the beginning. That way, you know where your hero or heroine is starting. Finally, fill in the middle, exploring how he or she overcomes obstacles to achieve his or her heart’s desire. Yes, that is a fairly simple outline, but it gives you a structure with which to begin, and will prevent you from writing yourself into a corner.
• Write whenever you have fifteen minutes of free time. Turn off the television and social media. Ask your family to give you a block of time early in the morning or in the evening. Write on your lunch break. Stay late at work a few times a week and write for one hour. Even getting down a few sentences will put you a few sentences ahead. Write your first draft with the full knowledge that you are going to be revising it over and over. Just get those words out of your head and onto the paper or screen.
• Read every young adult (teen) or middle grade (upper elementary through middle school) book you can get your hands on. The more you read, the more you will understand what publishers are looking for. And while you should not try to predict the next trend in publishing, you should be aware of what genres are over-saturated. For example, vampire books as well as dystopian stories have glutted the publishing marketplace for the last few years.
• Attend a writers’ conference, if possible.
• The Internet has an incredible array of blogs and websites dedicated to writing for the middle grade or young adult market, as well as the publishing industry as a whole. A few of my favorites are
• Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators http://www.scbwi.org
• Adventures in YA Publishing http://childrenspublishing.blogspot.com/
• YA Lit Chat http://yalitchat.ning.com/
• Pub Rants http://nelsonagency.com/pub-rants/
• Pikes Peak Writers http://www.pikespeakwriters.com
Everyone has a story inside of them. A survey from a few years ago stated that over 85% of Americans want to write a book, but only a tiny percent actually do it. So, put you hands on the keyboard or wrap your fingers around a pen and go craft the story that only you can tell.