LEARNING HOW YOU WORK
I have been writing now for over twenty years, I have been publishing for over seventeen, and along the way I've found bits and pieces that have helped me get to the point where I'm at today. One thing that I wish I'd known all those years ago was how to find a way that worked for me faster. Don't get me wrong, it's not like there's an easy fix here, but I do wish that I'd had the resources that are now out there for newbie writers, back when I first started.
Of course, like I said, there's no easy fix, but learning how you, as a writer, personally work, can be a great tool in helping you stay on track and keep writing those words. It can be a game changer, as it was for me when I finally hit on the process I have now. For a quick recap, I write most days, and plan my time extensively. I track how many hours it takes me to do certain things, and I make sure that when I plan a new month, that's all taken into consideration.
Like right now, writing this piece, it's something that I do at the end of every month, the admin work of being an indie author, and plan accordingly. I write throughout the month, but the last few days are for me to record videos, to do vlog scripts for the upcoming month, as well as to write the blog scripts for that upcoming month as well. It's something that's really worked for me, and it allows me to then, somewhat, relax knowing that I have the content I need for that month, and can then put all my focus onto writing my chapters.
Now I know that not everyone is going to have that ability. I know how lucky I am to be able to call writing my full time job, even if it doesn't pay me full time. Other people have jobs, kids, other commitments that pull on their time, and there is nothing wrong with that. Some people can't plan extensively because it's just not the way they work, and again, nothing wrong with that. It took me a long time to get to the point where I could plan and know how long things were going to take me. The tracking of my time has really only been the last two years or so, and even then, I haven't yet found a way to adequately track certain aspects of my work.
But if you are able to plan, it can be something that really helps you to learn how you personally, as a writer, work, and that can be a gold mine when it comes to finding out how to keep writing and keep moving forward towards your goals. So what are some of my tips for working all of that out? Glad you asked, because I'm gonna give you some here!
#1 WHAT DO YOU FIND EASIER?
This is a question that I asked myself way back when I started to plan and started to really take the writing life seriously. I knew that for me, drafting was pretty much my favourite part of the process, but that drafting took me a long time to complete because I didn't really have much in the way of a writing routine. By breaking down what I could do to help that, I moved onto setting goals for my writing sessions. I wanted to write, at first, a page a day, and then slowly and surely, it moved up to a chapter which is where I've kept it for a number of years. I do that because I don't want to burn out, and I know that when I have pushed myself to write more than one chapter, I've ended up frayed at the edges when it came to creativity.
So if you know that you find a certain part of the process easier than others, hone in on what you can do, and why it works for you, or doesn't, as the case may be. Like I know that revision is something that takes a lot of energy and a lot of time, so I make sure to do it separately to drafting. I will set aside a day where that is the only writing work I plan to do, and it's made it easier for me to focus and hone in on how that works for me.
#2 WHAT CAN YOU PLAN?
Now I know that not everyone can plan, and that's okay, if this isn't something you're able to do, then by all means skip it. However, if it's something you've not tried before, maybe give it a good try to find if that's the missing piece to help you work out your process for getting things done. Like I started with sticky notes on my computer, and then about three years ago, I moved into a paper planner and I've not looked back since. I make sure that I don't overload myself, and I know what needs to be done as well as when and how much and all the rest.
You don't have to go with a planner, you can just use the calendar app on your phone and the like. I do both in that I have a digital one on my ipad and my paper planner as well. There are a whole ton of different kinds of planners out there and I was lucky enough to land on the one I adored from the start, but that's where research comes into it. I knew I didn't want a dated planner because I liked being able to pick up and stop if need be without wasting it. That's just me, and for other writers they'll have a bullet journal or a completely different kind of planner. You gotta find what works for you and if, like me, you don't have a lot of spare funds, it might be that research is the best option here, or trying something digital before you move onto something physical.
#3 DO YOU ALREADY HAVE A PROCESS?
If you do, then it might be that switching things around with what I've said above actually help you hone down on how you work and how to make that work for you. I didn't have a process really before I started doing the page a day, so for me it was a case of a lot of trial and error before I hit on the one thing that really helped me.
If you don't think you do, then my advice would be to try and see different ways of doing things. It can take a while, but really knowing how you personally work can be such a good thing when it comes to approaching this writing life. Take the time you need, do the research, and pick and choose things based on how they sound to you. It might be that it takes you a long time, but there is no time limit here, and you can takes as long as you need.
Overall, finding how your work can be a great tool in planning, and also working out how to juggling the writing and author life. I wish you all the best of luck with it!
Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!
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