It is not easy to write a book, and if you’re a writer who thinks it is, then you’re in for a shock when after you’ve typed your opening sentence, it takes you (what feels like) one thousand years to type, The End.
The hard reality is that writing a book takes blood, sweat, tears, bottomless cups of tea, heapings of self-doubt, and a good few years.
I’ve spent the last five years being a serious writer and have only just managed to get a four book YA series written. And when I say written, I mean I’ve got four pretty complete drafts that are still being periodically edited. And by five years, I mean it’s taken me countless, half-assed drafts and a total of seventeen whole years to go from the initial first idea to the point where I even had drafts completed that were good enough to show to anybody else. Writing. Is. Not. Easy.
But it wasn’t just the fact that writing is time-consuming or that life (rightfully) got in the way that made the journey from idea to finished draft so long. I spent a lot of that time not doing any writing at all.
Sure, I was always thinking about the story, but as for sitting down and typing out actual words, it didn’t happen often, or at all for a stretch of about six years.
So what was the thing that changed that? Why was I able to get four books written to a semi-complete stage in only five years, when I’d struggled to write the first drafts in the twelve years before that? It was all down to…
The Three Day Writing Rule
This rule is simple: don’t go more than three days without writing.
You don’t have to write much. Sometimes all I could scribble down in the five minutes I had to myself was a sentence. Other days it was pages filled with anything and everything that came to mind. The point was to keep writing daily while I could, and when I couldn’t, I would make sure to only put writing on the back burner for a maximum of three days in a row.
Why three? I figured three days more than covered weekends (which, let’s face it, are really made for sleeping in), and that three days was also enough time to have a break from writing, but not so long a break that it became too easy to do everything but plant myself in front of my keyboard.
Now, when it comes to implementing the three day writing rule for yourself, it isn’t hard and fast. You can make it two days, or five days. It also isn’t something you have to do. You aren’t any less of a writer if three days for you represents the only amount of time you can write in any given week/month. The three day rule is a gateway rule, it gets you into a writing habit and keeps you there—which is exactly what you’ll need if you want to complete your book in much less time than one thousand years.
— K.M. Allan