How do you find the time to write a book?
It was always one of the questions that I asked myself over the years whenever I read a book. It is also a common question that’s fired right back at me when I tell people that I have a book out. As somebody with a full-time job, I don’t have the luxury of heading off to my Spanish villa and shutting myself away from the world for months on end whilst I write my masterpiece. Mainly because I don’t own a villa in Spain, or even a villa anywhere if I’m being honest, but also because of the aforementioned job. The image of some tortured genius chiselling out the words of his magnum opus just doesn’t apply to the new breed of indie author.
So, what does a typical writing week look like? Well, I’m indebted to those Saturday and Sunday night talent/reality shows that eat up hours at a time. What? You might say; that sounds counterintuitive. Let me explain this odd statement. I like to think that I’m a good husband and father who spends plenty of quality time with his family, so when the rest of the family settle down to enjoy Strictly Come Dancing or The Voice, this indie author gets a glint in his eye and fires up the computer. Autumn and winter are the best times for writing anyway, what with the early darkness and mind-numbing cold, so the fact that many of these shows run between September and Christmas, or between Christmas and Easter, means that time indoors aligns nicely with these telethons. I can get a good two or three hours done in the evening at the weekend, which in many cases is a good solid first draft chapter.
During the week, I’ll try to write a few solid hours here and there, plus a handful of half-hour bursts. Whilst I was writing Monkey Arkwright (available now on Amazon Kindle blah blah blah), I reckon that I spent between 8 and 10 hours a week writing, editing, proofreading and re-writing. Whilst I do take advantage of new ideas that occur to me as I’m writing, I tend to do most of the planning upfront – thinking things through at various points during each day and noting down the ideas as I have time. So, when I hit the keyboard for a writing session, it’s usually full steam ahead and this is quite an efficient way of working for me.
Excluding a couple of chapters and jotted notes that I had from five years earlier, Monkey Arkwright was conceived, planned, written and published in just under two years. But not all of this time was spent pedal to the metal, so to speak. During this period (January 2016 – November 2017), there were large gaps for holidays and rests. Here’s the general breakdown of what I did and when I did it:
- February – April 2016 ~ 10 weeks writing the first 6 chapters
- May – August 2016 – Thinking time only!
- September – December 2016 ~ 17 weeks – completion of the first draft
- January – March 2017 ~ 12 weeks – Editing and completion of the second draft
- April – August 2017 – Resting and deciding what to do next.
- August 2017 – September 2017 – Writing two short stories – one of which is available on my website. This serves as an introduction to the themes and the main antagonist in Monkey Arkwright.
- October – November 2017 ~ 7 weeks – final editing and publication
Taking all the thinking and resting time out of the equation, I reckon that I spent a solid 46 weeks doing the writing, proofreading and editing.
I’ll be saying a bit about the editing process in a future blog post. For now, I’ll just say that it was hard, and that I have learned some valuable lessons. I hope that these lessons will make the overall process for the second book much smoother.