• Valerie Miller

Time to Write




The first sentence can't be written until the final sentence is written. Joyce Carol Oates

I have a dream.

To be published.

To hold my novel in my hands, turn its pages and read my words. To send my story out into the word in the hope that others find joy in my story.

I have another dream.

To be a full-time working writer.

To start each day and write. To think about my story, its characters, the action. To read widely for professional development.

To live by my pen.

At the moment, my writing fits around my full-time work as an English teacher. I work to live, to pay the bills and support my writing. I know that even as a published author, I will need to work to supplement my earnings. I also know that literary success such as JK Rowling’s is a once in a lifetime phenomenon. That we may not see anything like her writing achievements again in our lifetime. That’s pretty extraordinary and surreal.

In all the articles I have read, and all the podcasts I listen to on writing, the one common advise that is shared, is, to achieve your goal as a writer you need to write. To write regularly and write often, to finish your first draft, to go beyond that first draft and revise and edit, and draft some more.

How do I do this when I have a full-time job as a teacher, maintain my relationships with my family and friends, exercise, and, clean my apartment? I have to make time to write. To schedule it in my day and stick to it.

It is not about finding the time to write but making the time to write.

Three and a half years ago, I made a commitment that I would write a novel. I wasn’t going to put it off any longer. I enrolled in my first writing course at the Australian Writer’s Centre (AWC) and in the following year, I enrolled in a postgraduate creative writing degree. I am also a prolific reader on all aspects of the writing craft.

How do I maintain this schedule with work, study and life?

Scheduling.

I simply show up to write.

Take this post. Every Friday night, at the end of the working week, I sit down and write a draft. I sleep on it and on waking, I revise, edit and polish the piece before I publish it. This is repeated each week. It has become a habit. Writer Gretchen Rubin, who penned The Happiness Project, wrote in a post for Psychology Today Australia that it generally takes 66 days to build a habit.

I also set deadlines.

My current schedule looks like this:

· Each weekday, I wake at 4 am and write until 5.30 am

· On weekends, I wake at 6 am and write until 7.30 am

· During the school holidays, writing becomes my full-time job


I also believe that deadlines need to fit into your current lifestyle. Setting deadlines that are achievable and manageable will ensure you succeed. The more you achieve the more motivated you will become. Deadlines are your friends. They help you to be productive and as Susan Weem says in her article, 'Writing deadlines: the unlikely secret to creative freedom', they will inspire your creativity. You will become intrinsically empowered and motivated.


To use my time effectively for writing, I have stopped watching television on weeknights. I have also stopped binging on TV series. To avoid distraction while on my laptop, I installed a program called Freedom that allows me to block social media and/or websites while I write. I also use the Horo App timer to set achievable writing blocks. While the Pacemaker Platform for writers tracks how much I am writing each day; when you achieve your target confetti explodes across your screen. It's fabulous!

Writing is about making the time to write and being consistent. After completing the AWC Make Time to Write Course, I discovered that small, yet consistent word counts can build your first draft:

If you write 250 words a day,

five days a week

you will have a book written in 12 months

If you write 500 words a day,

five days a week,

that book will be written in six months.

This is incredibly achievable. Don’t you think?


If you want to start your writing career while you are still working fulltime, the book So You Want to Be a Writer will help you get there. Written by Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo, this book is jammed back with everything to help you get started. I know. I have just finished reading it a second time.

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