"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Sunday, May 21, 2017

8 Habits for Becoming a Prolific Writer

I recently gave a talk to a writers group about becoming a prolific writer. Prolific may have different meanings to different people. After all, what number do you assign to prolific?

Is it someone who has written over 100 stories, but never shown them to anyone? Is it someone who has sold over “X” number of books? Or is it someone who can write in a variety of genres, for a variety of publications?

The truth can be any of these. However, if you are pitching an idea to an agent, editor, or publisher, they are going to want you to answer three very important questions.

1)      How does this project meet their needs?
2)      What have you published before?
3)      What other projects do you have in the works?

You don’t have to be the best in the business, or even a full time writer to become prolific. Keep these eight tips in mind on your journey to becoming, or remaining, a prolific writer:

1)      Volume - The best way to get published is to write – A LOT. Write EVERY day. You must commit to getting something new down each day. Set a goal, and increase it over time. The more you produce, the more you will submit, and the more you can publish. Sure, some writers have hours of uninterrupted time to devote to their craft, but those writers who produce the most volume don’t wait for those continuous blocks of time. They squeeze in ten minutes while waiting for an appointment. They draft a quick thought or idea on the paper they keep at hand, or on their phone while waiting in lines. Any time or place you might otherwise be idle can turn into moments of productivity.
2)      Outline – I’m a pantser at least 50% of the time. I always start with an idea, feeling, character, etc and write from there. Once I’ve gone as far as that inspires me, I know it’s time for a set of goals for the story, if not a full outline. This can help eliminate wasted time, detours, and full on writer’s block. Curious how the professionals do it? Review these notes and diagrams showing how some of the most famous authors of all time prepared their work: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2326630/Notes-diagrams-famous-authors-including-J-K-Rowling-Sylvia-Plath-planned-novels.html
3)      First Draft – give yourself permission to write the story YOU want, without worrying about editing, publishing, trends, or readers. Complete your whole idea before worrying about mistakes.
4)      Rewrites – it’s rare that I share anything I haven’t gone over at least FOUR times to check for clarity, believability, and fun. Then, I may have several others go over it before submitting. Even the best editors often need another set of eyes to offer feedback.
5)      Inner Turmoil – we are often our own worst enemy. Internal debates, concerns, and downright fears can take over and prevent us from moving forward as professionals. This can happen whether you’re a beginner, or a multi-published award winning author. The cure is to keep writing, have faith, avoid distraction when possible, and socialize with other writers for support.
6)      Read – A LOT! Gather inspiration, learn techniques, and find pure enjoyment for writing again when you read every day.
7)      Multiple Projects – too often we get caught up in focusing just on our book, or our current article, but the true sign of a prolific writer is someone who writes in multiple formats for multiple paychecks. Remember, the more places you’re seen, the more likely you are to get hired by others.

8)      Marketing – it’s all up to you! Social media, branding, and public speaking. Writers may be shy, solitary creatures by nature, but you can also be your own best proponent for success. Need some guidance on this front? Check out Hope Clark’s The Shy Writer Reborn.

So, what are you doing to become a prolific writer? Any other advice on this topic that you would like to add?