“When asked, ‘How do you write?’ I invariably answer, ‘One word at a time,’ and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is.” ~ Stephen King

Are you an aspiring writer whose biggest obstacle is lack of time? Do you find it impossible to spare the time to sit down and write a short story, let alone a novel? Perhaps, you need to examine whether lack of time is a genuine problem or merely an excuse to avoid writing. The real reason that keeps you from writing could be laziness, disorganization, perfectionism or fear of failure.

Whatever the reason for your failure to write, there’s good news. There’s a simple three-step method you can use to get your first writing project off the ground:

1. Create an outline of your story

Initially, create a detailed outline of your story or just make a checklist.

For example, you can list individual parts of your story such as starting paragraph, ending paragraph, setting, conflict, development of characters, development of plot and subplots, individual scenes, climax, dialogue, etc.

If you don’t have any ideas yet, use brainstorming, mind mapping or freewriting to come up with some ideas for your story. Select the best idea and list the things you need to do to develop it further.

2. Break up your outline into chunks

Make sure that each item is a small chunk of work that you can do whenever you have a few spare minutes. You can use some mini-sessions to brainstorm and add more details to the outline.

For example, write a paragraph describing the setting of your first scene, name and occupation of the main viewpoint character, first line of the story, etc.

3. Whenever you are free for a few minutes, start working on one of these tasks

Always keep a small notebook at hand to work on your list. You can also use an audio recorder or even your mobile phone to record your thoughts or ideas in your spare time. You can start and stop any of these mini-tasks as often as you want.

For example, you can work on these writing tasks while you are doing the dishes, standing in the queue at the mall, working in the garden, commuting, waiting at an office, etc.

These individual nuggets of time may not seem like much but when you add them up, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much time you gain for writing. And at the end of the day or week, you will be astonished at the amount of work you got done in those chunks of time, which would otherwise have been lost.

27 July 2011

Rohi Shetty is a medical doctor, Vipassana meditator, writer, editor, translator and blogger. His short stories and articles have been published online and in print.

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