This June at the West Virginia Writers Conference, I did a workshop about the other areas of the writing/publishing business. It’s easy to forget (and I do at times) that writing isn’t the only part of the writing business. There are many components of it and it’s easy for the “fun” and creative part to overshadow them. But in order to make this business work, one must remember it is a business and there are other important areas needing attention.
For me, I found it was easier for me to juggle these areas (and not forget one…which I’ve done) when I broke the business into six different parts. I’m going to share my workshop over the next couple of weeks on my blog. Please feel free to leave comments, or send me an email if you have any questions.
This will seem a weird way to start off this mini-series, as I just stated a writing business isn’t just about writing, but there are times when a writer can allow the other components to remain front and center. Especially those times when it seems like a particular project is fighting us every step of the way. It’s easy, and makes us still feel productive, to focus exclusively on marketing, promoting, and other areas that don’t seem to be battling you. And one must also consider that without the writing one wouldn’t have a writing business so…
Part 1. The Writing
There will be times when the writing needs to come secondary to other parts of the business, like when a book is first released, if you’re at a conference (don’t spend all your time in the room writing), etc., but make sure the writing portion of your business doesn’t come to a complete standstill. That’s not to say never take a break or a vacation.
After I complete a book, I like to “treat” myself with a goofing off day. And when I go on vacation with my family, or to a scrapbook retreat, I am there in that moment. I know I wouldn’t like for my husband to always bring work with him on vacation, or have my friends working during a time we scheduled to hang out together so I don’t. There are times when I must squeeze in some writing, but I make sure it doesn’t take over the time or become the priority.
I break down my writing into 3 areas and usually have two of them going on at the same time…lately its been writing one book and editing another. I’ve tried doing all 3, but found it was too much and made me anxious and a little twitchy so I will only do two at a time. It’s better for my sanity and creativity.
a. First draft – Just write. That’s my daily motto when writing a new book. I tell myself there will be plot holes. Inconsistencies. Characters pop into and out of the story at random times. I’ll wonder why a character has been sucked into a some kind of vortex and just disappeared from a key scene. I make a note (usually it means they weren’t needed there) and continue on with the characters who have a strong presence in the scene.
I do my best to go with the flow. If I try to control the story too much at this point, it stalls–and that’s even when I have an outline. Allow the first draft to be a way of getting to know the characters and working on the structure of your story. The first draft is never the actual book. Or shouldn’t be.
b. Editing – Before sending out to editors at publishing houses, agents or self-publishing, take time to edit. Be open to getting rid of any part of the manuscript that stalls the plot, doesn’t add to characterization, or sounds more like a lecture to the reader. Even with an outline, a writer usually knows the book better at the end than in the beginning. This is the time I enjoy and dread the most. Since I know the story and the characters drive and motivations much better, I know what needs to be added and taken away. Of course some of those scenes that must go are ones I’ve fallen in love with, and while I’d rather leave them in there so readers can see “my brilliance”, if the brilliance doesn’t contribute to the story beside to show my brilliance, it must go.
c. Next project – I always have a few ideas, or a basic outline for another book I’m interested in working on next. Of course, contracted books with a due date are always next in line so at times the choice is easy. In a few months, I’ll be wrapping up a romantic suspense series and there are two ideas battling for which one I should pick. Part of how I decide is how much research is involved and what other time commitments do I have. Is there a theme begging for me to explore it and which project would it fit? Is there a spin-off potential of books I just finished? I always like to have an idea or two for another project in the works because you never know when an opportunity will present itself.
Next in the mini-series: Time Management