In the middle of June, I started my life as a full-time writer. It has been a dream of mine since starting this whole writing journey back in 2018. Yes, I know. Quick turnaround. Now I have seven published titles on Amazon.
What used to be writing in stolen moments during the day, 4AM sessions, and evening jibberish before I finally went to bed has now become my every day. I know not everyone can have this opportunity and I know how lucky I am so I’m definitely taking advantage of it.
I set out with a lot of goals when I first started my full-time writer career… and I knocked them all out of the park. In just four weeks, I started, finished, and published four short stories / novellas (around 40K words total) and added over 35K words to other projects. Each of the four published works has been a #1 New Release in their respective categories.
In six weeks, I’ve racked up 150K words toward multiple projects.
While not everyone is capable of writing full time, there are strategies that I’ve used to help me make the most of my computer time.
Know what you’re going to write
When I sit down at the computer, I know exactly what I’m going to be working on. It’s part of the MIT list that I’ve trained myself to use back when I was working full-time. I know the three most important writing tasks I need to accomplish before I sit down to write. In fact, I know them before I go to sleep the night before.
Planning what I’m going to write has cut out a lot of wasted time. I don’t browse around looking for writing topics or try to remember what chapter comes next in my book. I have all of that planned and written down before I go to bed so I know exactly what to work on when I wake up.
And as a notoriously bad ‘pantser’, I’ve been dabbling with outlining my novels and stories. I still haven’t found the perfect method but I never would have finished any of my four stories if I didn’t have a plan for how they would progress. I finished two of the four stories in a single day, including edits (they were 8K and 5K words), and published them the next.
Take advantage of goals and schedules
I was lucky that Camp NaNo landed right in the middle of the four weeks of stories. It’s a great way to keep track of goals, find a like-minded writing community, and get some good word sprint and ideas flowing. My goal for July (set before I knew how many words I’d write in June working full-time) was 75K. For reference, I wrote 109K words from June 15-June 30.
If you are falling outside of April, July, or even November, I highly suggest a goal for the month. Having a number you’re reaching for helps motivate you to sit down and do the work, even when you don’t feel like it. I even gave myself consequences and rewards for if I failed or succeeded. Honestly, the reward for me is publishing a story but there are definitely other perks you can use to motivate yourself.
The other reason I was able to succeed was setting up a schedule. I gave myself until 9AM every morning before I was required to have my butt in the chair to start writing. That helped me maintain a morning routine (breakfast, walking dog, shower, thinking about writing). Once 9AM hit, I needed to be logged in and ready to go.
While I didn’t have a set schedule for when I needed to be finishing certain word counts, I did use my Most Important Task list to keep an eye on my progress. It also helps that every time I finish a chapter I can write that word count into my planner as a win.
Develop strong writing habits now
I was lucky to have set up a daily writing routine before I started working full-time. Once I was able to sit down at my desk and write to my heart’s content, my word counts jumped.
The biggest success I found was that I made sure I wrote daily on one of my writing projects. Personally, I succeed best when I have two different projects to write on (no more, no less). If I’m not feeling the motivation for one project, I don’t feel like I’m wasting the day because I can write in the other one.
Having strong writing weeks has even allowed me to switch up my normal writing routine. When I worked full-time, I had to rely on writing weekends to really beef up my word count. Now, I actually take weekends ‘off’. I have only added to my weekend word count during the month of July (gotta get that NaNo writing streak) but I utilize the weekend for personal stuff and the occasional writing day.
Always be thinking
My ‘off’ weekends, while not making a big dent in word counts, actually make huge impact on my writing weeks. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. I let scenes play out in my head, I consider what might happen if I change certain chapters, and I even think about new ideas and see what my next project might look like.
While I don’t technically write on my projects, I do take advantage of freewriting in my journal. Because I can’t do morning pages (screaming cats and a dog that needs to go out), I use my nighttime routine as a freewriting exercise. I start with a reflection of my accomplishments on the day and then I write about what I might work on the next day. Sometimes that turns into ideas for a new chapter, a new story, or just thoughts about how I might move my story forward.
One weekend, I spent the entire time thinking about a short story. By the time Monday rolled around, I was able to write all 8K words in a day, edit it, and format it for publishing.
Slow the typing speed
Sounds contradictory to trying to get more words written. Since I’m aiming to stay on the rapid release train, I’m working hard to make my first drafts as close to ready as possible. It means that before I sit down to write, my story is thought out and planned with a very strong outline.
Because of this, I don’t feel like I have to rush the typing process. While I still quiet my inner editor and try not to go back and fix large amounts of paragraphs at a time, I am being a little more careful with spelling and sentence structure.
When I slow down and be more mindful about my finger movements on the keyboard, I minimize my errors and produce a much cleaner manuscript. It’s also helpful that the more I do this, the better I get and the faster I can start typing again.
Rapid release and writing full-time isn’t an option for everyone but it’s definitely a goal of many. These are just a few of the strategies that have made my self-publishing journey a success and can be applied to any writing schedule.
You can learn more about my writing projects by joining my tribe or supporting me on Patreon. If you’re interested in the four works I’ve mentioned above, you can find them on Amazon below. Some of them are under a pen name.