It’s been two years since I decided to sit down and finally write a novel, or I should say novels. Yes, plural. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been writing since I was nine years old, but up until July 1, 2012, I’d never been disciplined enough to finish a novel. I’d tried several times. I’d have an idea and start writing, but it would just peter out as other priorities rose to the top or I simply lost interest in the story. I could never get over the hump for whatever reason or excuse I could muster. Finally, I chastised myself for not making time for my dream of writing a novel and decided to do something about it. That singular focus helped me finish not one but four novels in the space of two years. It’s amazing what discipline and focus can do for you.
It’s not like I didn’t know that already; it was just a matter of shifting my priorities to make it happen. My big excuse prior to finally writing a novel was that I didn’t have time. With a day job and two kids, it’s easy to see why I wouldn’t have time to spend writing. My weekends have a way of disappearing almost as soon as they begin and my weekdays are often long days at the office punctuated by sheer exhaustion in the evenings after the kids go to bed. Where could I possibly find time to write without giving up something else important to me?
I found my answer in the morning. I’ve always been a morning person anyway. I get more done in the first two hours of every day than most people get done in the first half of their day. I’m usually very lucid in the early morning and, fortunately, most creative then. Don’t even ask me to be creative in the evenings because by then I’m spent. I decided that the only way I was going to write a novel was to get up earlier and spend time writing before my day actually begins, so on July 1, 2012, I got up at 4:30 AM for the first time to start my writing journey.
I’m not going to lie. That time of the morning is painful even for a morning person. I’d always woken up at 5 AM, and you’d think that 30 minutes earlier wouldn’t make a difference, but it does. I hated it at first, but I was energized to have such pristine quiet time to focus on writing. As the days went by, I wrote more and more. I took one of my novel ideas and within three months I had a 75,000 word novel in first draft form. The adrenaline rush of putting the finishing touches on my first novel fed the desire to keep doing it, and after two years, I readily get up at 4:30 AM every weekday morning to write for an hour without a second thought. It’s an essential habit now. Most importantly, I no longer use the excuse of time for why I haven’t written a novel.
Now, it’s just a matter of getting one or all of them published. Honestly, my efforts there could use more discipline. I’ve sent query letters and attended a conference where I met with agents, but I haven’t had the focused effort that I’ve spent with writing itself. My focus has been on improving my writing and getting feedback on my existing work. I use that feedback to improve, and essentially, all of my novels are in various stages of editing, while I continue to write new things. Nevertheless, at some point, I will have to turn my attention to getting published in a big way if I want to make it happen. I know what it will take. It’s just a matter of making the commitment.