Utilizing Writing sprints, Parkinson’s Law and Singular focus will help ride both shifts.
Fiction and nonfiction are two brothers that couldn’t be less alike. If they weren’t related, they wouldn’t even meet. It’s challenging to get them under the same roof at the same time.
“Fiction writing is the composition of non-factual prose texts. Fictional writing often is produced as a story meant to entertain or convey an author’s point of view. The result of this may be a short story, novel, novella, screenplay, or drama, which are all types (though not the only types) of fictional writing styles. Different types of authors practice fictional writing, including novelists, playwrights, short story writers, radio dramatists and screenwriters.”
Nonfiction also comes down to writing, but it’s different. It’s like the toaster and the kettle, they’re both in the kitchen, but don’t serve the same purpose.
“Nonfiction or non-fiction is content that purports in good faith to represent truth and accuracy regarding information, events, or people. Nonfiction content may be presented either objectively or subjectively, and may sometimes take the form of a story. Nonfiction is one of the fundamental divisions of narrative (specifically, prose) writing — in contrast to fiction, which offers information, events, or characters expected to be partly or largely imaginary, or else leaves open if and how the work refers to reality.”
You’ll need to manage mental shifts if you want to finish your novel and maintain your blog. Time is limited. There is no more than 24h in a day.
It’s possible to excel at both without quitting your nine-to-five safety or dangerously cutting down on sleep.
I travel often and I work 10-8 (10 hours) and still manage to stick up to the writing schedule. I produce at least 2000 words a day without sacrificing anything much. It’s a joy.
It’s challenging to change your mind from the creative wonders of your imagination to cold facts and stats, but still keep enough creative imagination.
The voice is different. We use different tenses.
Words fly on the page with different pace and intensity.
You tap into different parts of yourself.
Your message is not the same.
You won’t write a post about efficiency in the past continuous describing how the moon reflects its shine from the broken bottle on the shores of Punta Cana. That’s not how it works.
Writing demands diving deep into yourself and bringing out all of you.
This morning you were a novelist, and by midday, you turned to an inspirational blogger.
I’m writing for Medium, I’ve got freelance gigs and I’m finishing my second novel. I write daily while traveling, working my 10–8 and balancing a long distance relationship.
This is how you can do it too.
I’m not a renowned author, nor am I making tons of money from my scribbles.
Now that we got that out of the way; I genuinely love creating stuff. I enjoy the process. And I hope this post finds you in good faith.
I started writing in the spring of 2018, almost two years ago. Since then, I’ve published more than 150 Medium stories and chalked up a novel and a half. Since I started writing, I haven’t stopped.
It’s not like I wrote every day for the last two years, even though I wish I had. I’d have sprints when I’d write for 30–60 days straight. These challenges created habits of writing, and since 2019, I’ve continuously been behind the keyboard.
It’s important to develop a writing habit.
No matter what happened, I’d wake up every morning and write. Mornings work best for fiction.
I could be drunk, beaten, sick, or lazy. I’d open up my writing tablet and attack the keyboard.
In October of last year. I started my first draft of the dystopian thriller I wanted to write for some time now.
My only goal was to write every day until the draft is ready. I figured the novel might be close to 100 000 words. I’ve outlined it in 3 loose acts and began.
I’d write every morning before work, and sometimes during the lunch break if I feel inspired. At first, I aimed at more than 1000 words per day. I hoped I could hit 2 or 3 thousand on a good day.
My alarm rang at 7am every morning. My work starts at 10am.
Setting words count helped me finish my first novel. I thought it would help me with the second one as well. It proved to be more of a husle, than a motivtior.
I planned to finish the first drafts before mid-December. Two months, easy-peasy. Unfortunately it didn’t happen. I’m still writing the first draft. I passed 70 000 words this morning.
My work schedule became more hectic, my sleep deteriorated, and my girlfriend came for a 6-week vacation to China. She stayed in my apartment, and my time to read and write became even more limited. I thought I’ll drop the ball before I discovered this system.
Every morning, I’d wake up to finish my ritual. I managed to write. Unfortunately, on certain days I could barely muster 200 words. I wasn’t reading as much, and my writing took a hit. I’d barely get 15 minutes in the morning to write. Later on, I found out that 15minutes is enough,
It became painfully obvious I’ve neglected my blog. I haven’t posted anything on Medium in five months.
I was happy my next novel was coming along — even at the speed of a handicapped sloth. Every day I was one step closer to writing the words ‘THE END.’ And it made me happy.
But I also wanted to write for Medium. I just had no idea when. My creativity was all used up, empty.
I felt like I need two different skill sets. I’d have to read different stuff. How? Is it impossible? The word impossible says I’ m-possible, I figured I’ll be alright.
The fifth month into my novel, I wanted to give up and focus on my blog.
I thought that I’d do a much better job if I just did one of those.
While that might hold true, I still wanted to get my novel out, and I wanted to publish on Medium every day.
This is what I do now and it works
My biggest concern revolved around my writing voice. Everything you do affects the way you write. I was painfully aware.
I didn’t want to come off as redundantly artistic in blog posts about self-improvement. It would sound off. And while working on the novel, I didn’t want to be too dry. I had to invest my creative energy to create new worlds and characters.
I’ve felt drained before I even started.
Having cardio in the morning and weightlifting in the afternoon might seem like too much. And It’s precisely how writing fiction and nonfiction feels on most days.
First, the endurance, then the heavy lifts. Paw, paw, paw.
I wake up, wipe the crust off my eyes, pull my writing tablet, and shut off any distractions. I tone down my phone and close the doors to the outside world. I set a timer to 15minutes. During this time, I write without distractions. I don’t edit or retract. I sprint. Usually, these 15minutes turn to at least 20.
Usual word count; 400–1000.
This is the pace I’m comfortable with. I could do much more, but I try to save my wits for later blog posts.
Then I go make my coffee, snooze a bit and read. I dive into nonfiction to fix my mind on reality. I’d swipe through Medium posts, read Quora and entrepreneurial books. After another 20minutes, I’ll open up my writing pad again and start editing articles I wrote earlier. It helps set my mind in focus for writing later.
In this instance, editing comes before writing for non-fiction work. It helps with the switch. I’ll explain.
After that, I exercise or meditate or snooze next to my girlfriend. Possibly all of it. It takes less than 30 minutes. I completely detach myself from my daily tasks, breath and enjoy the moment.
I’ll go to work at 10am. During working hours I focus on work.
During the first break. I’ll fix myself another coffee and start writing non-fiction I’ll try to utilize Parkinsons Law and the whole productivity triangle.
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I’ll set a timer to 30minutes for research, and then I’ll write for another 30min. When the timer goes off, I’ll stop, no matter how much i’ve got. On most days, I’ll have more than enough. The days I don’t quite make it help me focus better in the future.
Parkinson’s Law says that the “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
By creating time constraints, your mind will focus on what’s important. It will give you an edge to finish faster and create better. When it coms to writing this means you won’t dwell on redundancies and go straight to the point.
After writing, I’ll let the article cool off until I forget about what I wrote. Then I’ll aproach editing with a fresh perspective. It usually stays a few nights before I look at it again.
Then I’ll head back to work.
In total, it takes around 2 hours a day to maintain such schedule. And it doesn’t bite away from my work.
- 15–20 minutes for fiction
- An hour to chalk up the articles
- Less than an hour to edit and find the right photos
Before bed, I read fiction. I read fiction in a genre I’m writing my fiction. I read like I’m trying to find out the secrets of the trade. I read like a writer. If I’m writing a spooky dystopian thriller, I will go for Stephen Kings, George Orwells, and Aldous Huxley’s of the world.