Becoming a writer, as I have pointed out elsewhere at Novel Writing Help, is not something you can do in a hurry.
If you are one of those people who think they can write a novel and see the money rolling in inside a month or two, you will almost certainly be disappointed. Sorry, but there it is.
In my experience, becoming a writer of quality - that is, someone who can write a book to a publishable standard - takes a few years, not a few months.
Sure, there are novelists who can start from scratch and reel off a classic in a few short weeks, but those writers are truly the exception.
And so my first piece of advice is this: Never be in too much of a hurry to reach the end.
In other words, be a tortoise and not a hare. But also remember that here is a huge difference between...
And so here is my second piece of advice: However long it takes you to become a published writer, make the most of every hour.
In short: Taking your time is highly recommended, wasting time is not.
Whether you are ambitious and allow yourself mere months to write your novel, or more realistic and allow yourself years, you will still be faced with the problem of trying to find regular slots to work on the story in what is probably an already busy life.
Now, I have always believed that we can find the time to do anything if we want to do it badly enough, no matter how hectic our schedules.
And for me and hopefully for you, too the time to write is definitely one of my priorities.
Despite having to earn a living, I always manage to set aside an hour a day for writing okay, most days and you must aim to do something similar.
Becoming a fiction writer might take a few years, but those years are made up of thousands and thousands of hours spent at your desk, and you must make the most of every one.
So how do you find the time for writing novels? And what are the best ways to make use of this time?
The first thing to say is that it's much better to write in short, regular stints than long and irregular ones.
So if you have only three or four hours a week in which to work on your novel, try to do it every single day for 30 minutes, rather than doing the whole lot on Sunday. Here is why...
Daily writing stints will keep your creative writing muscle in peak condition, too.
(Yes, becoming a writer is just like becoming fit: the first day of jogging is torture, but it doesn't take long to get into shape. But if you run (or write) just once a week, your "shape" will have all disappeared in seven days.)
And here's another thing: Small doses of hard work are a lot more manageable than long ones. Writing with intensity for 60 minutes isn't so tough. Think about having to do it for four hours straight, though, and you might come down with a bad case of writer's block.
If you don't have a full-time job (or other commitments), you will have the luxury of being able to choose your own writing hours. If you do have to work then you must somehow make time. But how...?
Personally - and for most writers I speak to - I find that early mornings are best. The agony of getting out of bed an hour earlier is over by the time the coffee has brewed. And not only are most people's minds much sharper then than late at night, their neighborhoods are much quieter, too - meaning no distractions.
But like I've said before, whatever works for you is what is best.
Having decided that writing a novel will be more of a marathon than a sprint, and that the way you will reach the finishing line is by getting up at six o'clock every morning instead of seven (for example), there are three more things you must do.
I explore these things in the next article: Writing Fiction the Smart Way.