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Why YA?

Coming of age stories have always held a special place in my heart. When I…

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Currently, for my publisher, I produce a book every two weeks. No, these aren’t five-hundred page doorstopper novels. They are fantasy and science fiction written for a specific audience. They are novels none the less and churning them out quickly has gotten me attention. Mostly, writers and readers ask me about the “how”. Writing a book is supposed to be a great undertaking, akin to birthing a child. And I’m not going to detract from that. It’s difficult, no matter how short the timeline is. I’ve just figured out how to hack my schedule in order to be as efficient as possible and keep production high.

Structure is the key to staying on deadlines. I treat my schedule with a holy reverence. I work every single day. Every-single-day. Somedays I work thirty minutes and the next, I’ll work ten hours. That’s the best way to carve the sculpture, aka the novel. One chip at a time. Each book is written one word at a time. 

There are tons of hacks that I employ to ensure that I stay on schedule. I’m happy to share all of them, but honestly the biggest thing is to sit in the chair and write until it’s done. I love what Stephen King says in On Writing about this: “When you sit down to write, write. Don’t do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off.”

Facebook and other social media are the biggest culprits when it comes to sabotaging productivity. Chris Fox, the author of 5,000 Words Per Hour, disables his Wi-Fi during writing times. There are applications that can do that for writers, as well as programs that delete words if there isn’t consistent production. Imagine zoning out and looking back at your screen to find you’ve lost all your words for the day! Flowstate is one of those programs and some authors I know swear by the sadistic software. This just proves that focus is the biggest culprit to any author achieving their word count goals. 

The key is to set up a structure, stay focused and minimize distractions. None of us are perfect, but working when we’ve set aside time is key. I track my word counts and if I’m not clocking a thousand words per hour then I give myself a little talking to. When we look back on our life, we’ll remember the books we completed, not the time we spent surfing the web. 

Writing a book in two weeks is possible for me because I keep things as predictable and balanced as I can for the most part. I have a schedule, and although it invariably gets upset from time to time, it usually remains intact. If a is wrench thrown in my schedule then I shrug and rework the calendar. I had a few schedule snafus with my last book, preventing me from writing for a couple of days. I ended up writing ten thousand words in one day to complete the book on time. I lost sleep. It was no big deal. The next day, I bounced back. And then I started another book. 

I love what I do, but if I didn’t then I’d find churning out a book to be a chore. It isn’t. With every single book, I’m hungry to find out how characters are going to reveal themselves. I might fall victim to distraction, but having a system in place is key to staying focused. I believe we all have a book inside us, waiting to be birthed. You can write it in a week, two weeks or a year. But nothing is going to happen if we don’t commit. To use another Stephen King quote, “You have to stay faithful to what you’re working on.”


by Sarah Noffke  (TopShelf Columnist)

Twitter @RealSarahNoffke / SarahNoffke.com