Better, Stronger, Faster

Posted by on April 18, 2013 in business of writing, editing, freelancing, self-publishing, writing | 6 comments

I have the theme from The Six Million Dollar Man running through my head (and now, I suspect, you do too…)

A few weeks ago, I attended a writing workshop let by a Big Name Author.  In the past, I had heard many positive things about the BNA and his workshop, but I have to admit, I was *very* disappointed in the actual presentation.  I thought that the BNA was very … slippery — when asked for specific advice about specific aspects of the professional writing life, his answer was almost always, “I don’t know what works.”  Alas, the entire weekend came off as a promotional pitch for his professional editorial and publishing services, and I came home feeling cheated.

BUT (and that’s a huge qualifier!), I did come away with one substantial piece of advice that I felt truly applied to me:  I need to work harder.  I need to put in many more hours, and I need those hours to be vastly more productive.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m already a pretty good worker.  I set deadlines and (mostly) I meet them.  When they’re deadlines for outside people (like an agent or an editor), I always meet them.  I put my butt in my chair and my hands on my keyboard every working day, and I generate or edit words.  I’ve sold those words, too — both in traditional publishing and in self-publishing.  2012 was my most successful year for traditional publishing (financially speaking), and I made more than that amount of money in self-publishing.

But that’s not enough.

Traditional publishing is failing, not-so-slowly, but oh-so-surely.  I still believe the model can be good for authors — an advance’s certain money is nothing to be sneered at.  But that money is harder and harder to come by.

Self-publishing is growing by leaps and bounds.  There is still a vast amount of potential out there — in U.S. markets and abroad.  But self-publishing is an entirely separate career.  I’ve heard lots of people say this, but I’ve never really absorbed it — you need to design your books, edit them, publish them.  To me, that’s actually the easy stuff — I outsource what doesn’t come to me naturally.  But to self-publish, you also have to generate content — lots of it, and on a predictable, increasing schedule.  You also need to network, with as many interested people as possible.

It’s actually that last bit that’s making me stumble.  I’ve recently become a member of an incredible new group (more about that later), which has inspired me in many professional ways.  I’m seeing more energy and enthusiasm from a few dozen writers than I’ve seen in years.  But that input comes with a cost — more than 200 emails a day.  (Most aren’t vital, but some, oh, some are…  Getting the email in digest forms seems very dangerous at this point.)

And another group I’ve been a member of for months has shown similar explosive email growth — another 100 emails a day.  And another group, and another…  And there are still groups I want to join, places where I can teach and learn, organizations where I can grow.

I need to be more involved; I need to work more.  But there are only so many hours in a day.  And so I arrive at my new organizational plan:  Alternate Day Writing.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I’m an author.  I write words.  I edit them.  I’m a hermit who presents to the world as a writing machine.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’m a publisher.  And a household manager.  And a social person.  I’m only scheduling coffee breaks, lunches with friends, grocery store runs, errands at the bank, post office, you-name-it on Thursdays.

I’ve only been doing this for two weeks, and I had company for four of those days and a cold for four more.  But I think I’m onto something here…  Let’s see how it works.

And you?  Any organizational tips and tricks that you live by?

6 Comments

  1. Hi Mindy,

    Sounds like a plan!What I like about yours is that each day is different. So many times you hear “Write every day from 8:00-2:00) But that doesn’t take into account that M-W are worlds different from the rest of the week and require more creative time management.

    My first book is coming out in November and will be traditionally published by Harlequin. I’m thrilled but scared–so much to do in addition to finishing the next contracted book in the series. I’ve gained a whole new respect for pubbed writers!

    Hope your plan is working out and I’ll be checking in!

    Debbie

    • So far, I’m really pleased with the way it’s working out. I *do* get antsy at the end of the day, because I want to keep working on whatever I’m working on, but that helps me to get up and running early on the next writing or admin day…

      Congrats on your pending November release! What imprint are you writing for at Harlequin?

      • Harlequin Nocturne.

        I read one of your Jane Madison books where she gets a small rental cottage in back of the library and everyday tries to impress a library patron who is SO not into her. :) Love your voice! I never used it, but have a graduate degree in library studies. Librarians rule!

        Debbie

        p.s. I found your blog through Deborah Blake.

        • Ah, Nocturne… I’ve read so many of those :-)

          Thanks for the kind words about Jane. I have a lot of fun writing her story. (And isn’t Deborah Blake a wonderful friend?!)

  2. Itook one of Deborah’s classes years ago and often visit her creativity cauldron site. Maybe one day I’ll get to meet her in person.

    Since reading this blog post I’ve implemented my own writing schedule and productivity has at lest doubled this week. I’m no longer worried about meeting my next deadline.

    Thanks, Mindy!

    • Yay! I’m glad that “my” writing schedule is helping others! (And yes, I’ve been much more productive, too!) Good luck with that next deadline!

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