Now, right now, like today, it is the exact right time to write your book. You shouldn’t even need my reasons to finish your book, you should be doing it! Honestly. If you want to close this tab and go back to that Google Doc so you can keep writing, I won’t even be offended.
Well, okay, I might be a little bummed out. But still.
The truth is, we’re all living through some weird times right now. I’m sure you’ve had a deluge of emails and social media posts about staying healthy, staying sane, and activities to keep you busy. And if you’ve got a book in the works, this might just be the perfect time to finish writing it!
Write And Publish To Stay Sane
A professor asked me many years ago, “why do you write?” Not “why do you like to write?” or “why is writing important to you?” I mulled this over for a moment, but I knew it was because I had to write.
I’m not a great writer by any stretch. I think most of us who write aren’t, nor do we need to be. Writing is a drive. A desire. We start writing to free an idea that is overtaking our minds and our imaginations. Authoring a story is an act of mental health.
So if you rededicate yourself to finishing your book for no other reason, do it to stay sane. I can’t say enough how valuable this can be.
Let’s even detach writing from creating a book for a moment. Because this is a self-publishing blog, I get very focused on the book—the product you’re creating. But publishing a book is really secondary to the act of writing. You could create blog posts or even just journal your thoughts and keep them private.
You just need to be sure to create some writing time so that you can free all those ideas building up in your head. It may not be easy, but it’s well worth effort.
Everything Else Can (And Has To) Wait
We’re all doing our best to practice social distancing. For some writers (like me) this might not even be much of a stretch. But it does mean a lot of events (sports, concerts, etc.) are canceled. LIkewise, travel plans (sorry Mom). That means we’ve got even more free time to fill.
Which translates into the perfect reason to finish your book. I personally get most behind on my writing projects when I’ve got a lot of social obligations on my calendar. Clearing out my calendar has been a bummer, to be sure, but it’s also made a lot of time for writing. Like a lot.
And in a difficult situation like the one we’re all in right now, using your free time to create, is incredibly healthy. It’s also a great opportunity to do some writing by hand. I know that’s not nearly as popular as it used to be, but it’s a great exercise. Here’s author Steven Erikson practicing his handwriting by posting a page a day from his new draft:
Your Calendar Is Empty; Fill Your Calendar
I have a calendar with great pics of my pets from last year (printed by Lulu of course). It hangs in the kitchen and my wife and I keep our travel and social plans on there. April is completely barren right now. So I filled it with writing tasks (and a few household chores I’ve been neglecting).
I put ‘1000’ at the bottom of every weekday and ‘2000’ on the weekends. That’s my word count goal. I think I’m around 20,000 words from finishing the manuscript I’m working on, so this draft should be wrapped up by mid-April. Which is kind of scary when I look at those calendar blocks. But it’s also incredibly inspiring.
Setting and keeping writing goals isn’t anything new for writers. Any list of advice will include goal-setting. Right now you’ve got time on your side. Yes, you probably should binge some Netflix (Tiger King what?) and you should probably read some books. I’d even endorse spending some time on your Nintendo. But don’t let all of your time sink into consuming media.
Not when the opportunity is here to create!
Write Now, Publish Sooner
It follows that the sooner you finish your book, the sooner you’ll be ready to publish. Thinking long term can really help with goal setting and calendar filling. For self-publishing, I suggest allowing at least three months from finishing your manuscript to publishing. That’s time to revise, proof, edit, layout the interior and cover, and start your marketing.
Three months is a fairly aggressive timeline, but it is doable. Even if your publishing timeline is longer, you still need to finish the book first!
Having publishing on the mind while you write can be a distraction. I’m well aware of this, as someone guilty of playing with fonts, headers, and page layout when I should be writing. But there’s a difference between distracting yourself with publishing and planning to publish. If you put a mark on your calendar months from now that says ‘release my book,’ you’ll have a point to aim for. Everything else can work back from that point.
With how much work goes into creating and publishing a book, you need to take any advantage you can get. That might mean using your time now to get that book written so you’ll be ready to publish it even sooner.
The World Needs Your Story
I know this is wildly cliched, but the world really does need your story now more than ever. And more than that, you need your story.
Crisis is potent writing fuel. Powerful writing material too. Much like my first point about using your writing to help stay sane, we need all forms of art right now. That includes you and your writing. Whatever that might be. Seriously.
From high-fantasy to academic research to children’s books to cookbooks; we need to keep creating. For ourselves and for the rest of the world. Students need your research, people at home need your cookbooks, and people like me need your stories.
Building Your Book
If you’re done or nearly done writing your book, this is also the perfect time to fine-tune and finish it. You already (most likely) utilize the web to find editors and readers, so working with a community of creators should be easier for you than many other kinds of creators.
Get feedback, find designers to work with, and even create your book files; all online, all from home. Writing is a uniquely solitary and communal process. Both parts of the writing process can be done without ever leaving your house (though I readily admit, writing groups are more fun in person).
Everything has changed in the broader world. When it comes to your writing, almost nothing has changed. So really, you shouldn’t need reasons to write beyond the drive to free your story. In these strange and unprecedented times, being at home more than we’re accustomed to, you can find even more precious time to write. Take advantage of it.
Paul is the Senior Copywriter at Lulu, writing weekly blog posts and helping guide content for the company’s marketing. When he’s not deeply entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person, but considers himself cat tolerant.