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Yes, You Can Write a Full First Draft in a Year

Updated: Jan 3, 2020

Some people are self-motivated and experienced enough to write a book – or at least a full first draft – in a year on their own. We already established that fact earlier this week.

Maybe they have a dead-end job that gives them lots of free time. Maybe they’re committed enough to wake up an hour earlier than necessary on weekdays. Or they could be intentional about carving out time after work or on the weekends.

Regardless, they’ve got what it takes to write a full first draft on their own in a set stretch of time. To them, I say, "Mazel tov!"

Then there are other people who may lack the necessary experience to push their manuscripts to the publishing point. Yet they’ve still got that self-motivated spirit to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard all by themselves... week in and week out.

Those writers deserve a round of significant applause too.

It’s always nice to think we fall into one of those mature, focused, do-it-yourself kinds of camps. But in today’s digitally-driven, distraction-filled world, that’s not necessarily the norm.

Wondering which group you really belong to? Here’s a pre-Writing Challenge challenge to try out.

If you want to know if you can write a full first draft in a year – or write an entire book in a year – consider this litmus test.

First off, choose a day. If you’re reading this early enough in the morning, you might even be able to go with today.

Whatever date you do pick though, make sure it’s a full one. You need to analyze it from start to finish.

The big question you’re trying to answer is this: How much time do you have a bad habit of wasting on social media and other ultimately worthless distractions?

If your paid job involves being on social media, that’s one thing. It’s not a problem.

We’re talking about scrolling through your personal Facebook feed or trolling through Twitter just to see what the latest gossip is.

You may think you’re only on there for a few seconds at a time. But those few seconds add up. They turn into minutes that sometimes, let’s face it, turn into hours.

Painful as it might be, add that wasted time up at the end of the day. Think about how much faster you could have gotten through your employer-paid projects or other commitments if you didn’t let yourself get distracted quite so often…

Then think about how many sentences, paragraphs or even pages you could write with the time that’s left over.

In evaluating your “litmus test,” keep in mind that you can get entire paragraphs done in a 15-minute span. And you can get a decent page or two completed in an hour.

“I still have plenty of time to spare in the evenings,” you might say. “It’s not that big of a deal.”

But remember: You’re analyzing your evenings too, which could be just as wasted as your mornings and afternoons.

It’s a scary thought, I know. But if you want to write a first draft or a full book in a year, you need to know what you’re up against.

Maybe you do. Maybe you know you can’t say no to Netflix... not unless you actually invest in your lifelong (or much more recent) goal to write and publish a book.

Then again, maybe you don’t. Maybe you just need a one-time Skype or phone session with an experienced author and editor to sort out your thoughts and set you up on the right path.

Either way, you need to figure out what’s best – for you.

It really is about you. There’s no pressure involved here beyond the good kind that doesn’t let you forget your goals and dreams.

So can you write a full first draft in a year? Can you write a book in a year?

The answer is almost undoubtedly yes. You just need the right motivation to back you up.

Editor's Note: Read the next post on writing a book in a year here.

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