The Write Way Café welcomes Boone Brux, who discusses working smarter, not harder.
Word count might be the most common phrase used by writers. Word count defines our workday, our release schedule, and let’s face it, our mood at times. If you write by the seat of your pants, or don’t stick to a plan, you may have muttered these words, “If I write _____(fill in the blank) words every day for the next week I’ll make my deadline.” Or the dreaded, “Okay, now I have to write _____ words a day to make my deadline.” And when you don’t hit that mark, you start to panic. “Okay, seriously, I have got to write twice as many as yesterday so I can hit my deadline.”
That was how I used to write until I burned out and realized I needed to work smarter, not harder, which was easier said than done. It took time, but I came up with a couple of key practices for over-estimating, under-performing writers like me.
The first step is changing your mindset. Unless you are a crazy fast writer, or have the luxury of writing all day, you’ll need to switch your thinking from block writing to continuous writing. Block writing is writing only when you have a book due or an approaching deadline. A lot of times it’s frantic. All life around you stops, laundry goes unwashed, family and friends are ignored, and personal hygiene becomes sporadic. Once the book is finished, you collapse on the couch for a couple of days, binge watching eleven seasons of Supernatural.
Continuous writing means you hit a specific word count almost every day. I try for two thousand. If it’s more, great, if it’s less, I don’t sweat it. Missing one day doesn’t derail my writing and is easily made up over time. I am able to knock out my words in the morning and have the rest of the day to live life. It sounds easy, right?
Well, if you’ve been a block writer this might be more difficult than you think. First, since you’re used to a do or die writing style, stopping once you reach your daily word count might seem counterintuitive. You might be tempted to continue writing, but it’s important to set a habit that will build on itself and gives you freedom.
Look at it this way, you can write 2,000 words a day for 200 days out of the year, and end up with 400,000 words. That’s four full-length novels, or three full-length novels and three to five novellas. That’s a book release every three months or more, with time to spare for marketing and having a life.
The second thing to realize is that in the beginning, you’ll need a few months to get this practice running effectively. Not only will you need the allotted time to finish the book, you’ll need lead time for edits, covers, marketing, and planning your releases. The idea is to avoid panic mode, so be sure to factor that into your initial planning stage, and accept that you might need anywhere from six months to a year, depending on what your daily word count is.
Here are a few ideas to bring a workable writing plan to fruition.
1. Set a realistic word count. What is your life like, hectic, lots of free-time? Plan accordingly.
2. How many books a year do you want to publish? Is one or two good, or are you going big with one a month? Consider book bundles as a release option. Combining a series can give you a release without much effort or the need for new content.
3. Where and when will you write? Set this as a habit. You know yourself best. What do you need to get the words done? Make your word count a priority. There will be days when you won’t be able to write, but there will be days when you might have to say no to a lunch date or reschedule.
4. Keep an In Production notebook. These are upcoming projects you haven’t written, but are in the queue. Jot down ideas so when the time comes to write the story, it has already had time to percolate. Also, start a general plot during this phase. Having a basic outline of the story will allow it to form organically.
5. Start a marketing notebook. When the time comes to market your book, where will you place it? How much time and money will you need? Take ten minutes a day to jot down ideas. Decide when you’ll need to line up your promotion, and then stick it on your calendar.
6. Which brings me to the last thing. Get a planner or calendar. I use a two-year planner that only has months. It allows me to pencil in my book releases, marketing, holidays, or events that will disrupt my writing. I can see months ahead and plan for any pitfalls. I can also see if I’m overscheduling my life and adjust accordingly.
Being a writer is a journey. I will never finish all the books I want to write, and I doubt if I’ll wake up one day and say, “Okay, I’m done.” I hope to be writing for decades to come. Having a balanced life and continuous productivity is key to success for the overstressed author.
About Boone: Boone's stories range from high fantasy to humorous paranormal.
Having lived all over the world, and finally settling in the icy region of Alaska, she's always looking for the next adventure. It's not unusual to find Boone traversing the remotest parts of the Alaskan bush, gathering information for her stories. No person or escapade is off limits when it comes to weaving real life experiences into her books or blogs.
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After radio silence for a couple thousand years, BAM, there she is, my old partner Mara. I thought I was over the anger of her joining Lucifer’s entourage, but clearly, I’m not. And damned if she isn’t smack dab in the middle of trouble, messing with the soul I’ve been assigned to save. Things are about to get ugly, because there’s no way I’m letting my client be swayed by a minion of Hell. And no doubt I’ll do something stupid like try to save Mara’s soul. I just hope I can do it without losing my own.
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