There’s no “right” way to write. But if you notice that a lot of time has passed with little progress, take a look at your process.
1. Stop letting “life” get in the way
I started this particular novel in classes, and later used small breaks at work to email myself ideas or flesh out ideas.
2. Make up your mind
Whether you plan out every detail or fly by the seat of your pants, just take action. I personally drew a loose timeline and then got started: Much better than spending weeks researching the “best way” to plan out a book. I use a simple outline, do some character brainstorming, and then dive in. If the story heads in another direction, I let it.
3. Spend time with your characters
IMO, writing a book over a long period of time, AKA pushing it to the side whenever other plans come up, breeds room for plot problems. Your characters are real to you, consider time planned with them as important as keeping obligations to your friends. Spend time with your characters and keep their traits/world from getting fuzzy from days of neglect.
4. Kill off your own criticism
From Writer’s Digest to Stephen King’s On Writing, the agreed-upon idea is to not self-edit right away. In the past, I’ve tried to document everything plot or character change I’ve added to the book, or edit past scenes before working on new stuff, but going with the flow has proved to make for smoother storytelling. Besides, there’s always the dreaded first edit. So, for now, let the characters take control and live out their experiences.
5. Stop being a control freak
You see, I’m a control freak. And writing a book let’s me have control of every aspect. But I’ve learned to be flexible. I don’t have to know everything. Instead, I choose to write with an idea of what I want to happen. It’s not until I start editing that I look for missing plot points, character actions that don’t make sense, or scenes that don’t feel quite right.
I’m trying to be more intentional in the creation process. And as I wait for my hiatus (before I start editing) to be over, you can find me curled up with a book.