Posts Tagged With: writing tips

What I Wish I’d Known – Part 6

Managing Your Time

The hardest part of being a writer – for me at least – isn’t coming up with new ideas.  It isn’t working out a really cool plot of trying to decide which conferences to go to or how to best market the product you’ve created.  Trust me, those ARE hard.  They’re extremely hard.  But they’re not the hardest part.

No, the hardest part if figuring out how to manage your time.

My life is pretty busy without adding anything book related.  I work a full time day job where I have to leave the house by 7:30am and I get back home around 5:45pm.  I am married and have two wonderful – if oftentimes demanding – children.  They’re both young and stubborn which means that sometimes bedtime is a chore which requires a lot of patience, an understanding wife, and a lot of luck.  There are nights were the battle isn’t won until 9-10pm.  Anyone with small children can probably relate.

That really only leaves me two options to get writing time in.  Either before I leave in the morning OR after the kids are in bed.  Usually, I go with after.  In fact, I always go with after since I really don’t like getting out of bed in the morning.  Go figure, right?  So it’s well after midnight when I got to bed and well before 6 when I wake up to get ready and go to the day job.

Now that I’m a published author though, I can’t just devote my time only to writing.  There are marketing tasks to be completed, social media pages to update, emails to be read and responded to, meeting with editors and others from my publisher, interviews, podcasts, and a million and one other things that now take MORE time away from actually writing, not less.  It seems like there’s never enough time.  So I just get less sleep.

It’s unhealthy, I know.  My wife gets after me about it all the time.  The book tour manager at my publishing company gets after me about it.  My editors get after me about it.  My parents get after me about it.  I get after me about it.  My four year old son gives me lectures about dying all the time.  But it’s what works so that I can get writing and other stuff done.  I’ll be honest though, sometimes it gets to be a little much and I have to take a break.  These last few weeks I’ve just done some light editing/revising and a final read-through.  I haven’t been doing a lot of other series writing or marketing.  I should be, but I haven’t been.  I will start up again soon.

But the point is that the system works for me.  I can get in both marketing (and other stuff) and writing.  At an LTUE convention Michaelbrent Collings gave a 1:3 ratio for this “other stuff.”  He said that for every 2 hours you spend writing, you have to spend AT LEAST 1 hour doing this “other stuff.”  He went on to explain that sometimes it ends up the other way around – 2 hours doing “other stuff” and 1 hour actually writing.  I didn’t believe him at first.  Really, that’s how much time you have to spend doing “other stuff?”  I had this grandiose idea that a published author had more time to write that before because he had a readership and that offered some sense of security.

I was wrong.

However, I developed a system that works for me to get it done.  That’s essentially what I’m trying to say.  Writing is a job as well as an artistic endeavor.  You have to find the time it needs to devote to it and then consistently do it in a manner that works for you.  Brandon Sanderson has often been touted a prolific writer.  People assume that he writes quickly and a lot.  That’s not really the case.  He writes consistently using his own system to get stuff done.  That’s how he manages to write so much so well.  Consistent use of his system to get the job done.

So, if you get nothing else out of this blog series, get this.  You have to figure out how to manage your time.  Each person does it differently, so find what works for you and stick with it.  Plug away.  Do it.  That’s all there is to it.

Categories: Musings | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

What I Wish I’d Known – Part 4

It’s YOUR Story

Last time we talked about the editing and revision process.  Editors are awesome.  They help you out with so much.  So do your beta readers, alpha readers, friends, fans, and everyone else involved in the process.  They are all integral and important.

But it’s still YOUR story.

You came up with the concept.  You put in the hours to get the story down on paper.  You subjected yourself to criticism, suggestions, and outside opinions to make the story better.  You did the work.  It is YOUR story.  It isn’t anyone else’s but yours.

While it is extremely important to give your fans and readers what they want – they’re the ones buying it after all – you started this process for you.  While your editors have brilliant suggestions and ultimately a massive part in the final product sent to print, you’re not out to please them – not entirely at least.  Writing is something that you do.  Your own personal happiness and satisfaction with the story is your most important goal because why would someone buy something you yourself aren’t proud of?

In many respects, your story is you and you are that story.  You have to represent it, market it, talk about it, dream about it, and – most importantly – convince people to buy it.  People will come to associate that novel with you and you with the story.  Do you want that association with something you aren’t happy with?  You can’t rely on just your editors to make it perfect – you have to make it the perfect story too.

At this point, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Well, duh – it’s my story.  Why is this important?  How would I ever forget that?”  That’s a good question.  The answer to that is simple.

There will be so many different people throughout the process who will look at, edit, and provide suggestions on the text itself that that beacon of though “this is your story,” will get a little hazy.  You’ll have cover artists trying to capture the essence of your story into a single, overarching image that simultaneously draws people in AND gives them a glimpse into the heart of the novel itself.  You’ll have editors suggest changes to wording, phrasing, details, characters, first lines, and every minutia of detail that you’ll have moments where you think you have to please everyone and compromise your own personal opinions of what you’d like in the story.  You’ll get a manuscript back from someone (editor/beta reader/writing group) so full of suggestions/comments/criticisms that it will hit all the feels.  Your opinions of what needs to happen in each of these situations will sometimes differ greatly from those providing the suggestions.  Sometimes you won’t know they’re suggestions at all.

There will be times where you forget that THIS IS YOUR STORY.

But don’t.

This is YOUR story.  After all the editing, after all the suggestions, changes, critiques, and tweak this is still your story.  You make it what you want it to be.  Yes, your editors and other critique partners are helping you make it better, but in the end, the changes are yours, the revisions are yours, and the ultimate responsibility for the manuscript is yours.  If there’s something you don’t like, change it.  If it’s not something you can change yourself (like cover art or back blurbs or marketing campaigns) talk to the appropriate party and voice your concerns.

YOU have invested the time.  YOU have come up with the amazing novel that everyone will want to read.  YOU did the worldbuilding.  YOU brought life to the characters.  YOU took the time, put words to a page, and wrote the book.  It is YOUR story.

Enjoy it.  It is your story.

Categories: What I Wish I'd Known | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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