Write Something, You Slacker!

I’m of course referring to myself, who hasn’t updated this blog (or any of my other blogs) for quite some time.

It’s seems, with me at least, novel writing and blogging do not go hand in hand. It’s either one or the other. And since novel writing makes more money (money? ha!), blogging get’s pushed to the side.

So what’s a writing mama like me to do when I get behind schedule?

Why sign up for Nanowrimo, of course!

nano challenge Write Something, You Slacker!

You all know the drill – 50,000 words in 30 days. 1,666 a day. 69 words an hour (you can write for 24 hours, right?). 1 word every minute. Or something like that.

Since I average about 1,000 words an hour that means about an hour and a half of writing something.

Sure. No problem.

REALITY CHECK

50,000 in one month? Are you cray cray crazy?

Probably. But that’s beside the point. I actually don’t think Nano is all that difficult if you commit.

That it’s in November kinda sucks, because it’s right in the middle of getting ready for Christmas, which as you know, means shopping, decorating your house, and making delicious (fattening) food.

But since you’re a writer, you don’t need food to get fat – just exercising those butt muscles by sitting at your computer for an hour and a half a day [cough - twelve hours on Facebook - cough] is enough to get the same result. And who needs a pretty house when you have Pinterest pictures to cry over? And shopping? Well, even Grandma wants a copy of your latest tentacle dinosaur billionaire romance, doesn’t she? There, shopping done.

BUT I DON’T WRITE FICTION / I’VE ALREADY STARTED SOMETHING / I ONLY WRITE SHORT STORIES

Well last I checked, there was no Nano police. No one is going to send you a report with a big ‘F’ on it if you don’t follow the rules to the letter. Besides, there are whole forums for Nano Rebels who jump in with half written books or write whatever they like. The only real criteria for ‘winning’ is that you finish your 50K. And that’s easy (as I’ve just proved above – it’s one measly word every minute).

So you are going to do Nano with me, aren’t you?

Come on, write something – you slacker!

icon smile Write Something, You Slacker!

How To Write 10,000 Words a Week

Since pushing myself (and getting a little over-enthusiastic at my abilities), I’ve come to settle into a rhythm of a comfortable 10,000 words a week.

I know that probably doesn’t sound impressive considering some authors can manage nearly that per day (I’m looking at you Dean Wesley Smith and Rachel Aaron), but with a three-year old still at home (who is currently applying for the most annoying girl in the world when mummy is having computer time), a surly seven-year old who hogs the computer to watch minecraft videos (what’s he going to be like as a teenager?), and an obsession with decorating blogs (oooh look what she did with a piece of string and a picture frame), I think 10,000 words a week is still pretty damn awesome.

Plus who wants to compete to be the word count winner when it stresses you out? No thank you – I have enough stress in my life. Is that banana smushed into the couch again – groan.

So how do you write 10,000 words a week when you have a crazy life?

Planning and good time management.

  1. Push yourself to see where your limit is.
    I tried 15,000 words a week (my thinking was that I could finish a 60,000 novel in a month on that word count). Couldn’t do it. I hurt my shoulders, back, and got stressed. (I already had a shoulder cuff injury that bothered me, but that’s another story). But by starting higher than you think you can do, you’ll see that you can do more than you believe. I wouldn’t have tried for 10,000 words a week if I hadn’t tried for more and cut back.
  2. Schedule (but keep it flexible).
    Twice a week my youngest is in childcare (the other is in school). So for those precious hours between 9.30 and 3.30, I’m kidless. The house is quiet and I can relax. But not too much, because these two days is when I get the bulk of my writing done. Sometimes I can manage around 5,000-6,000 words during these hours – allowing for breaks. Generally though it’s more like 3,000-4,000. Just those two days I can get to around 7,000-8,000 words. For the rest of the week I write at night – an hour here, half an hour there. This is where I make up the shortfall so I can hit 10,000.
  3. Try productivity hacks
    I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique. It’s 25 mins writing, 5 mins break, repeat four times then have a longer break. I use the 30/30 iTunes app for it set into 25/5 intervals and then just go. During the 5 min break I either get up and walk around or simply close my eyes thinking about what comes next in the story. There are other really good productivity hacks you can try – many of my friends are fans of the Seinfeld Don’t Break the Chain method – where you must write everyday so you don’t ‘break the chain’. I don’t use this however because …
  4. Have a day (or a weekend) off.
    I don’t write everyday. I need at least one day break to clear my head. That’s why the Don’t Break The Chain method doesn’t work for me – but if you do like to write everyday you might want to check it out. I used to only write five days a week, but now I’ll usually fire up the laptop on a Saturday night too if I haven’t made my word count. We are trialing Switch Off Sunday’s in our house. No technology, for no one, every Sunday. (It’s probably worse on me as I’m picking up the iPad before I even get out of bed to check my email). But balance is good.

If you can keep up the pace of 10,000 words a week, that’s 500,000 words a year (assuming 50 weeks a year – come on, we need holiday’s too).

500,000 words a year is:

  • 8 novels (approx 60,000 words), OR
  • 20 novellas (approx 25,000 words), OR
  • 100 short stories (approx 5,000 words each)

8 novels, here I come …

 

12 books in 12 months (probably not going to happen)

I’ve injured myself.

Too much time hunched over a laptop in bed, and not enough time sitting with correct posture at my desk. My neck hurts, my back hurts, my shoulders hurt. I have a torn rotator cuff shoulder muscle (although that’s from carrying my three-year old and catching her when she jumps off the table).

A few weeks ago I posted that I was writing novellas and had planned on getting out one of these each month. The first two published just fine. But then I changed my mind about length and I’m a quarter way into a novel for my October book.

I figured I’d write 15,000 a week so that after four weeks I’d have a 60,000 word novel.

Sigh.

15,000 words is not going to happen. I need to rest my body.

I can manage 10,000 though, so the October novel will still make deadline. But that means I’m only writing two days a week instead of five. And it will take me five or six weeks (or more?) to write a novel instead of four.

Which means my goal of 12 in 12 is looking less and less likely unless I go back to short stories or novellas. Which I don’t want to do.

So be it. It is what it is. It’s my own fault for slumping and hunching.

Let this be a lesson to you. Look after yourself while you sit at your computer.

Tracey icon smile 12 books in 12 months (probably not going to happen)

P.S. Here’s some neck exercises to stay limber. Go do some now.

Writing 12 books in 12 months (easy, right?)

my brilliant career Writing 12 books in 12 months (easy, right?)

My Brilliant Career

I like goals.

They make it easier to focus where your attention needs to be.

Two months ago, I made myself a goal to write one new book every month.

So far, so good. Both August & September’s books are live, and I’m about to start October’s book. I’m actually ahead of schedule, which means I have time to write a blog post here. icon wink Writing 12 books in 12 months (easy, right?)

But is it enough?

So far, both books have been novella length (15,000-20,000 words). I am considering to changing that to novel length (50,000+) if I can figure out how to fit that many words into my monthly schedule. (Hey, other author’s seem to have no problem – I don’t need a life – right?)

I’ve priced them @ $2.99 so my royalty is roughly $2 each.

If I do write the novels they will be higher (although what price, I’m not sure – I’m currently experimenting with pricing).

But for arguments sake, let’s say I continue with the novella’s since I know I’m able to get one of those out per month easily enough.

My average sales so far (although they both haven’t been live for very long yet) is only fifteen sales per month (I only have Amz figures – not other retailers yet).

This means I’m  adding an extra $30 or so per month per book. It’ll probably be higher once all other retailers report, but let’s err on the conservative side for a moment.

If averages stay constant, after twelve months and twelve books that means I’ve added $360 per month to my balance sheet (12 x $30) or $4,320 per year (after the first year).

Doesn’t sound much does it?

But let’s say I never write another word, and the averages remain.

Over five years I’ll make $21,600.

Over ten – $43,200.

In ten years, each novella (again sticking with averages) will have made approx $3,600 each. Not bad for about 30 hours work (which is about how long the novellas are taking me to write and edit).

Now of course, this is making a lot of assumptions. Including that they continue to sell the same amount month after month, that indie royalties stay the same, and so on. Which of course is ridiculous because we have no idea what will happen one, five, ten years from now. It could be better, it could be worse. We don’t know.

I also don’t know what I will do. I might write a hit, I might never write or sell anything again. Or I might completely change my mind and write a novel a month instead of the novella’s (this is a strong possibility as I’ve already mentioned above).

But even though I don’t know, doesn’t mean I’m going to stop putting out a book each month. That would be crazy. (And I couldn’t bare not meeting my goal – icon smile Writing 12 books in 12 months (easy, right?) )

Besides, each story is better than the last as I learn about storytelling, cliffhangers, openings, pacing, characterisation, genre tropes, etc etc. Each of which you learn BY WRITING (and reading/studying of course).

Maybe at the end of the year, I might actually be good enough to sell more than 15 a month icon wink Writing 12 books in 12 months (easy, right?)

I’ll know by the end of the year.

Let’s find out …

 

Writing to a Production Schedule

calendar Writing to a Production Schedule

Last post I said that my goals for the next twelve months was to write seven books. But that really wasn’t pushing myself much was it? I’ve now upped that to twelve. So that’s my new goal – one book per month. These books probably won’t be full-sized. More like novella length (20,000-40,000 words).

The only way to achieve a goal as lofty as that, is to have a plan and get writin’.

My first is finished and in editing. I’ll send it to my beta reader on Monday, and if all goes to plan it should be published within the week after that. August book – DONE.

I’ve already started September’s book. 6,000 words in. I’ll make that deadline too. Bam!

How am I achieving this?

I made myself a Production Schedule. And I’m sticking to it.

  • August – Book 1 (finished, in editing)
  • September – Book 2  (started)
  • October – Book 3

and so on …

All books already have titles. All books already have covers. (I went on a bit of a pre-made cover buying spree).

All books just need to be written.

No excuses. I have a schedule now, and damn it, I’m gonna hit it.

Bring on Christmas sales … Oh yeah.

How to Make a Writing Production Schedule

Plan a full twelve months ahead

I suggest making your  production schedule twelve months long. Trad publishers have publishing schedules that are years in advance, so twelve months is nothing. Most indie’s don’t think much past the next book. They write something and then get hung up on that books sales. If you have more in the pipeline, one book doesn’t mean so much because you’ll be busy starting the next. That way you can get on with what is going to make the most money – having more product.

Find your writing triggers.

In deciding your schedule for the next twelve months, you need to have an idea of what you are going to write, or you need to have something that will trigger ideas for you, otherwise you’ll finish one book and have no clue what you are writing next. I’ve got full titles and covers ready to go. That’s my trigger.

Your trigger might be a whole 12 book series. Or perhaps a set of characters. Or maybe you like working to titles, too? Work out how best you come up with ideas and use that to your advantage.

Productivity Hacks

I’m slightly obsessed with productivity and finding ways to do things in the shortest amount of time possible. I have to be, since I don’t have the luxury of eight spare hours a day to write. It’s rare that I have peace and quiet at my house.

Two days a week I’ve put my youngest in childcare, and the hours she is away, as well as my older child in school, I spend as much time as I can at the computer. I have roughly five kid-free hours. I spend four of them writing. I’ve been having a lot of success with the pomodoro technique. 25 mins writing, 5 mins rest. Repeat four times. Have a longer break for  lunch then go again.

I’ve increased my word count to around 6,000 words in 4 hours doing this. Find out how YOU work best and stick to it.

Will a Production Schedule help you make more money as a writer?

Yes.

Not directly of course, but if you follow a plan of writing more, two things will happen. One is that you’ll have more product on the market, and the second is that ‘time in seat’ or ‘time writing’ will help improve your writing skills.

I’m firmly of the belief that you get better by writing more. I don’t think you get better by obsessively rewriting the same story over and over (it might make you good at self editing though ;)). But each story you write helps you learn about characters, plotting, pacing and so on.

And I’m also firmly of the belief that the more books you have, the easier it is for people to find you (visibility!) and buy your other work if they like it, and therefore, the more money you’ll make.

Start today

Christmas and the new year is the biggest e-book buying season. Have you made plans to get more books out before then? It’s only four months away. Start today, start a production schedule, and get writin’.

Tracey icon smile Writing to a Production Schedule