STEP THREE: Schedule time to write and make a concrete writing plan. Early in the process is a great time to sketch out a writing plan. Think about the following questions:
- Over the course of the average week, when will I typically have time to write?
- Which days and times will consistently be available?
- How often during the week can I commit to writing my content?
- Who will hold me accountable?
- What support will I have?
- Will I have an informal reader?
- What will I do if I run into trouble?
It’s best to block out time to write on a regular basis and put this in your calendar. Assuming that you can wait until winter break or complete the entire project in the summer months is typically not a successful strategy, as it puts a lot of pressure on you to complete a lot of content in a very short space of time. A steady pace is usually most effective.
Remember that the order in which the chapters appear in the book, or the features appear in the chapter, is not the order in which you have to write them. Writing is often an organic, non-linear process. Forcing it to be linear can be counterproductive. If you are stuck on Chapter 3, it’s best to move on briefly to a feature or chapter that is flowing more easily. Trying to force things will take the joy out of writing and may result in additional blocks. Step away from the chapter that feels impossible. It’s okay to come back to it later. Often, the content you develop for other chapters will spark ideas for the difficult chapter.
Write what you have time to write. Life happens. Sometimes, with the best intentions in the world, scheduling will make it difficult or impossible for you to spend several hours writing. When that happens, just write what you can. Even if you have very little time:
- You can write all the learning objectives and outcomes for your chapters.
- You can write chapter or unit introductions.
- You can write a question set.
There are many pieces and parts to a chapter and a book. When time is short, work on some of the smaller pieces of your project.
Authors who set their projects aside, perhaps waiting for a sabbatical or vacation to do the bulk of the work, often get so far behind they are not able to get back on track again. The most important thing is to keep moving ahead, even if it’s in small steps. Your editorial team can help you with specific suggestions about the pieces of your project that don’t require a major time commitment.