Better, Stronger, Faster
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?