Writing Life: The Writing

To be a writer, you have to write. You have to write regularly. And you have to finish what you write.

To be earning a living from your work, you have to publish your work and have it available for sale—and even that might not be enough.

The only advice I have on this, is find time to write every day, but don’t kick yourself when life happens. After that, I would say decide what you want to publish and when, and look at what you are working on. If you don’t write short fiction, then a fortnightly schedule might be a bit unrealistic. If you can’t write more than a thousand words a day, then expecting to release a 100,000-word novel each quarter is probably too much.

Look at what you want to achieve, and then break it down into the time-frame you want to achieve it in, but keep your capabilities and real-life demands in mind. Build in a little bit of flexibility, days for being sick, family holiday, time for fitness. I call this ‘fudge time’, and I don’t mean the chocolate. I mean time for things to be fudged up so that you can recover from them and stay on schedule.

Don’t build in too much, though, or there’s a chance you’ll write less than you could, and life’s unexpectedness will affect you anyway. Just keep your expectations real—which is harder than it looks, as any of you will know from following this blog. Be prepared to adjust your expectations of yourself to the reality of your capabilities. And forgive yourself when you set the target too high, and need to adjust. Learn to accept yourself for who you are, and not an ideal you can’t achieve.

Also, there are days when the story won’t cooperate, when you need to research, when finding the words is like mining Tassie granite, when you write 209 words in three hours instead of the usual three or four thousand. There are days when you’ll have a new idea pop into your head that needs to be written down before you can keep going on the old one, and days when you just have to work on something else.

Let yourself do these things BUT set yourself a minimum, so you stay on track for the publication date. Decide on a focus project, and work on that FIRST. Have two documents open if you must. Switch between them as the muse demands, but work on that main project each and every day. You cannot finish anything in a decent timeframe without keeping it consistently on track. How you do that is up to you.



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