The guidelines below are truisms, facts, not opinions. They will work for hobby writers, part-time writers and professional writers. If you are not a writer or if you believe you have to “suffer” for your art or any of that, they won’t work for you. Note: I’m all about intentions and facts, not perceptions. If you disagree with any or all of this post, please don’t email me. I’ll just smile, shrug and say, “Okay.”
To the Important Stuff
A writer is a person who writes, who puts new words on the page. It’s a person who loves to tell stories in written communication. There’s nothing elevated about it, nothing special except that you get to spend your life making up stuff for a living. If that definition fits you, or if you WANT that definition to fit you, here are a few guidelines that might help.
- Your conscious critical mind exists to protect you. Like the benevolent android in Jack Williamson’s “With Folded Hands,” it’s sole function is to keep you from being harmed… even by rejection. That’s why it’s so much easier to spend all your time rewriting and polishing instead of moving forward and writing the next story. No risk of rejection as long as you’re rewriting.
- Your subconscious creative mind is the source of all your inspiration, all your story ideas, and all your stories. If you get out of your own way and trust your subconscious, you will write in your own original voice. Then your only challenge is to NOT go back and rewrite and polish until you’ve erased your voice and made your story sound like everything else in the slush pile.
- Everything in life is a matter of priorities. My critical mind often will use that to attempt to “save me” from writing. When I’m about to write, suddenly doing something else (anything else) becomes a priority. And I shake my index finger at my critical mind. No! BAD critical mind! Get back in your corner and leave me alone! My creative mind has stories to write! I wanna run and play with my fictional friends now. You get the idea.
- Productivity is what I’m all about as a writer. The more work I put out there, the more I practice my writing, the better it becomes. Also the more books and stories I have to feed off of each other and the more income I receive from my writing. Period. This is the same reason every time I get five new stories I slap them into a collection in both ebook and paper. When I get ten, I put them in another collection. That gives me three streams of passive revenue from every story I write. Can you say Ka-ching?
- Productivity can be reduced to mathematics, and math is a concrete, finite thing. Here’s the equation: P = PW/h(H). Or Productivity equals publishable words you can write per hour times the number of hours you spend in the chair putting new words on the page. If you want to increase your productivity, you have to increase one of those two factors.
- Words per hour… Truly, this is a biggie. I write about 1000 publishable words per hour. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? But if you’re writing 1000 words per hour, that’s only 17 words per minute. Think about that. Writing 1000 words per hour gives you a LOT of time for staring off into space. If you’re getting less than 700 or 800 words per hour, you might want to check in with yourself and figure out what you’re doing during that hour. You can safely bet it’s linked to your critical mind. Seriously. Don’t tell me or anyone else about it if you don’t want to (it’s nobody’s business but your own anyway), but if you’re serious about being a professional writer, Fix It. If you aren’t, of course, no biggie.
A little more on that… a lot of us took typing in high school. My best rate was 60 mostly error-free words per minute. Extrapolated out, that’s 3600 words per hour. Do I expect to be able to write 3600 words per hour? Of course not. But it kind’a makes that 1000 words per hour seem really do-able. You can look back and punch in your own figures.
Oh, as an addendum, N-E-V-E-R write “crap” intentionally. That you “should” write crap the first time through is just the dumbest advice ever. Do the best you can on the first time through, spell check it, then have a first reader check it for consistency and errors (no writing advice!). Then publish it. Then write the next story. (Again, if you disagree, please don’t email me. Just go ahead and do what you want.)
If you’re wondering about how to price print books, here’s the gist:
Don’t devalue your work. Just don’t. I did that for years. No more.
Set your list price so you make at least $2 on Extended Distribution, the royalty you receive after everybody (Baker & Taylor, Ingram, the other smaller distributors, bookstores) takes their cut. No matter which printer you use (I use CreateSpace) there’s a nifty free royalty calculator at https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/#content6:royaltyCalculator. I strongly recommend you bookmark it or whatever you call it.
On all vendors (Amazon, B&N, et al) the print price and the ebook price are linked. At the worst, you won’t sell many print books but the price of your print book will drive readers to buy your ebooks.
Okay, there y’go. Writing is fun. You just have to get out of your own way.
‘Til next time, happy writing, or whatever you do for fun.
Okay, starting on March 11 I’m going to put up my Microsoft Word for Writers series of posts. If you are mystified by all the bells and whistles on Microsoft Word, stay tuned. If you know someone who is, ask them to subscribe. After all, it’s free unless you decide to drop a little something in the tip jar. 🙂
Note: If you find something of value in these posts or on this website, consider dropping a tip into Harvey’s Tip Jar on your way out. If you’ve already contributed, Thanks!