This Writer's Life, Writing

How Productive a Writer are You?

I’ve always admired productive authors; I find they are a great source of inspiration for me to keep pursuing a writing career.  I envy them their imaginative drive, hoping one day I can do the same.  Since this article came out from the New York Times, there has been some talk that writing one book a year is not enough.

Like other readers, I can become impatient for the next book by an author, particularly books within a series.  However, if I have read a particular author’s work before and know to expect good quality, then I am happy to wait for it.  As a writer, I understand the pressure can be immense; both publishers and readers alike desiring the next book to be better than the last.  Expectations for authors these days are high, but like any other business, push yourself too high and you could get burnt out.  You don’t want to sacrifice quality for quantity; readers are prepared to buy and recommend particular authors if their work is highly regarded.  Producing two books a year is doable, but it also depends upon the author’s genre and the amount of research required.  Author Jody Hedlund has some good ideas on what you could be writing between novels.

In an interview with Writers’ Digest some years ago, author James Patterson explained how he manages to produce so many books.  His explanation was simple: when one book is finished, write another book!  This seems to be the usual catch-cry whenever you read books regarding the craft of writing; as soon as you finish one, begin work on another.   You can’t always wait for the muse to make its appearance; there are times when you have to force it to show up.  By continuing to write between books, you are not only producing more work, but also improving your skills as a writer.

If, like me, you are an unpublished author, we have an advantage – we don’t have deadlines to meet.  We don’t have the added pressure on what to write and when to write, however, we do have the same amount of time like everyone else.  It is in our own best interests on how to use that time and use it wisely.

Being a writer in today’s world seems to be separating the hobbyists from those who just have to do it.  I’ve always dreamt of being a published author, yet I know that it will forever be nothing more than a dream if I am not putting the effort in.  I trust you are doing the same.

Are you a productive writer?  Do you believe writing at least two novels a year is doable?  What are your thoughts on the expectations of authors these days?

Free image by Salvatore Vuono courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Writing, Writing Process

New Year, New Beginnings

Christmas is finally over, my mother has been and gone and now it’s time to concentrate on writing once again.  January is always a trying month – with the children on school holidays I usually find it difficult to write, which is never a good start to a new year.

For the first day of 2011, I took time out to reflect upon my goals and plans for the year ahead.  In order for me to make any progress with my writing career, I came up with a couple of things and listed them below:-

  • Allow yourself to be reflective. Take the time to be alone with your thoughts, be it once a day or once a week.  Exercising or going for a walk helps clear the mind and helps to keep you focused upon your writing goals.
  • Keep away from negative people. Unfortunately you will get these people in your life.  My mother has always been negative in my choice of career, but with these negative people you need to remember that it is your choice and your life.  Negative people do nothing for your self-confidence and keep you away from your writing goals.
  • Write every day. During my mother’s visit over Christmas, I couldn’t get any writing done, so that when she left I found it difficult to get writing again.  Writing every day keeps you into the writing habit.  It’s much better to write something daily, rather than wait for the inspiration to turn up.
  • Focus on your goals. When you’re not focused on which direction you are heading with your writing, you tend to go off into different directions.  I had been doing that for a couple of days – working out which genre I write in.  A lecturer once told me that the best essays are those written on a subject you feel passionate about, and I found that to be true.  So focus on writing what you want to write about; things like genre will come later.
  • Use your time wisely. Good old time management skills come in handy here.  Have everything organised well in advance; plan your days the night before.  Make sure you get some writing done every day, no matter how small.  Before you know it, months may have gone by with very little progress being made and you begin to feel despondent and question your own abilities.

I know it is early days yet, but how are your writing plans going so far this year?  I hope you have all begun on a positive note and I look forward to hearing about your progress.  I wish you all a happy, productive and successful writing new year.

Writing

A Practice in Time Management.

Recently, I received a call requesting I do some more casual work.  Coming towards the end of the school term, I was a bit reluctant; however it was arranged for me to do this particular job from home.  It was the perfect situation to be in, yet it left me wondering how I was going to get any writing done.

I remember reading once that in order to be happy, one must take the time to do what they enjoy doing.  Therefore, as I tend to be a morning person, I prefer to do as much writing as possible then.  But where would this leave my paid work?  I’d be foolish to squander my time if I was getting paid by the hour.  Fortunately I was told that this job was a case of do what you can, when you can, so it’s completely flexible.  As I’m working from home and have no set hours, who is to know that I could be doing some of this work during the evening?

Next year, I plan on returning to studying part-time.  Working from home gives me the opportunity to practice my time management skills.

Free image by Graeme Weatherston courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.com

University, Writing

Writing: Finding the Time.

Last year I made the fatal mistake of not getting any writing done because of my University studies.  This year, now that my studies are underway, I’m finding it difficult to get back into my own writing.  By not writing for so long, I am finding it difficult to get back my ‘mojo’.

The problem is twofold – that of switching from academic writing to imaginative writing, and managing the time.  Forcing the imaginative side of my brain doesn’t work, and I’ve found that only through relaxation and exercise does that side finally kick in.  Because my university studies require an awful lot of reading (for one subject alone this semester I am required to read seven novels), I tend to continue working late at night.  I find myself putting so much energy into my studies (even though I’m supposed to study part-time), simply because I want to get good marks.  I don’t want to be seen as a failure.  Unfortunately, this allows me to let myself down as a writer.  I’ve been finding it difficult to balance the two.

The old writing advice of ‘write 10-15 minutes every day’ is the only way around it.  It may not sound like much (and more would be an added bonus), yet it forces me to get into the habit of writing every day.  Breaking the writing down into smaller chunks of time, together with smaller writing projects would allow me to get back on track.

Next year I aim to take a year off studies to concentrate on writing.  Unfortunately, this may give me too much time to write, which could easily be squandered!  (Uh oh, looks like it’s either one or the other…).