How to write a novel with your busy schedule?

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“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Hemingway

Amish Tripathi, the million-dollar author of the ‘Shiva Trilogy’ used to write while sitting in the car on his way to work. Harper Lee wrote the first draft of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ when she worked as an air-hostess. Clearly, writing while filled up to the brim with work isn’t impossible.

Our heart goes out to those who have the corporate cerebrum but the heart of a philosopher. For a lawyer working 17 hours a day on a hostile takeover, to the business consultant working to improve the profitability of an offshore oil rig, this is for you guys. This is THE blog post that’s been written to solve all your problems, well almost.

Make a schedule

 In the life of the young and ambitious like you, time is precious. This acute shortage of time, paired with the evident duplicity of complicated tasks precipitates a need for a clear-cut schedule of the day and the week. To achieve this, imitate every government department in Britain and focus on cuts. These cuts refer to superfluous tasks that can easily be multi-tasked if not completely eradicated.


“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”
—George Orwell

One usually writes from the heart. One’s beliefs find expressions in one’s works, sometimes unconsciously. Thus, creating the superstructure of the book is often an easy task. Although, sometimes you do get stuck. Now, granted the certainty that we will not have the luxury of time for long looks into the horizon; here are some methods for getting work done on your novel, sharpish.

Source – Shutterstock

High Intensity Interval Training

Primarily used in gyms around the world as an advanced performance exercise, it’s a great way to brainstorm. Embedded within it are well known techniques of cubing and listing. All you have to do is twist it, and voila! We have with ourselves a brilliant mental exercise.
Let’s now move on to the meat and potatoes of this exercise. For short periods of time, no more than 20 minutes you inundate yourself with appealing creative stimulus. Try it, you’ll like it!

Record all your experiences, make note of every passing thought! 

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”
—Virginia Woolf

Pen down all your interesting thoughts. During the course of a busy day, a lot of unusual, and often spicy events take place. These add great flavours, if not substance, to your initial idea. Don’t discard these gems, and make note of them. Keep a notebook handy, since it is inhuman to remember and reflect on everything immediately.

Reach out to people!

Interacting with more people also gives us great insights into realities other than our own. Make a mental note of people, their gestures, their behavior and other seemingly random facts, because it always helps to look at the world through the eyes of another person.

Finally, make use of your travel time! A lot of us work across states; long commutes get a number of us to take the public transport. Engaging with people during this time can give you results you wouldn’t even dream of! With over 7 billion people in the world, there is a farm of interesting stories waiting for you. All it needs is harvesting!


Once you’ve finalized your basic idea, no matter how vague it is, the time comes to get cracking. Start writing, no matter what. Some techniques that may help you in doing this are:

Find your creative spot(s)

Finding a perfect place to write that coincides with your daily routine is essential to the creative process. The relationship becomes akin to a bed with sleep; reach your spot and your mind knows what is expected of it. Coffee shops, cafes, and diners are ideal. Honestly, nothing like entering an empty coffee shop early in the day, with the delicious aroma of freshly ground coffee to get the creative juices flowing.

Over a couple of days and months, once it becomes a habit, you’ll notice how easily you get into the flow of writing. It worked for JK Rowling, why shouldn’t it work for you?

Source – Shutterstock

Fight the laziness

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.”
-E.B. White

“I’ll do it tomorrow” aren’t the words of a winner, or of a writer for that matter. In our busy lives. However, we often become our own enemies. While days are tiring for the majority of the world, the successful minority have one thing in common – pushing past the barrier of exhaustion, which is just plain laziness, most of the time.

Set a word goal.

Treat your novel like work. Set a quantifiable objective, and stick to it. A reasonable target per day is about a 500 words. With the average novel reading about seventy to a hundred thousand words, this results in you having a draft ready in just about a year, tops.

Stimulate yourself.

 “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
-Richard Bach

On days when it is particularly hard to write, or when the famed “writer’s block” rears its ugly head, use positive counter-measures. Do whatever it takes to motivate yourself to write. This is the time you offer yourself that beer, or that hot choc fudge. Anything to get where you want really.

Write, no matter what.

Let’s face it, some days the ideas just don’t come. You try the brainstorming techniques I suggested earlier, still nothing. On such days, just write. Good words, bad words, it doesn’t matter.

Source – Shutterstock

The weekend is a golden time to write. Be a little rude on such days. Don’t go out for coffee with a friend. Don’t help your partner out with his or her work. This is the time for you.

Good luck!

May the force be with you!


The Penguin India Blog

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