I am unashamedly a pantser. Most of you know what that means. A pantser is a person who does not lay out big plans or modes or outlines or graphs or models of stories... we don't do creative boards about our characters and generally speaking we get a story idea and start fleshing it out mentally... and then we start writing. And in that initial writing process we get to know our characters, our setting and our plotline. We might go into the story knowing that Jennifer not only keeps her job, she gets a promotion and that Kyle realizes he isn't really meant to be alone... that he felt that way because of past wrongs.
BUT THAT'S ALL WE KNOW.
And so we write and get to know things and add things and bob and weave as we create the opening chapters, checking the sequence, tweaking this and deleting that.
Now this process is natural to pantsers. It doesn't worry us, bother us, fret us or take all that much time, really. It's an artistic process.
But this is not how to run a business.
The business side of writing is different. It's serious. It affects the paycheck. Which affects the mortgage. And the bank's pleasure at dealing with you.
These two distinct sides of your business need to be handled uniquely. You're fine being a pantser when writing books as long as you're creating saleable material. It's all good.
But running a business takes plotting to be successful, no matter which side of the publishing divide you fall on.
1. Plan your work and work your plan.
A. How much money do you need to make?
B. Are you published already?
C. If not, are you doing what it takes to get there?
D. Are you working regularly?
E. Are you sending things out?
F. Entering contests?
G. Working with a critique partner?
H. What are your goals?
I. Are you working every day to achieve those goals?
J. Have you put a lid on whining and/or being envious of others? (You would be amazed at how many writers are never satisfied with where they are because they're so busy looking around at others. This is not helpful. Keep production up at least until you're on the NYT list... and even then, if you're smart!)
2. Now that you're published, what are you doing to stay published?
A. Are you writing daily?
B. Are you editing your work regularly to polish it, make it shine?
C. How many books can you write in one year?
D. Do you crunch numbers regularly or act surprised when income rises or falls?
E. Are you examining all sides and opportunities in the current publishing landscape?
F. Do you set up a one year plan? A two year calendar?
G. Most businesses run the "numbers". What are your numbers? How much can you write in a day? Then multiply that by days in the week and weeks in a year, etc.
H. Do you have a back-up plan? When a line closes, do you have another outlet for your work?
I. Are you utilizing the indie market as well as traditional markets to get your name out to more people?
J. Do you watch market reports, Author Earnings, check Seekerville links and read with respect and skepticism?
K. Do you know why you should be skeptical? :) Go to letter "L" and I'll tell you...
L. Because you are the captain of your ship, and not everyone wants your success. You should! So don't pay too much attention to the whiners and naysayers that pepper the publishing landscape.
Now you're asking yourself, is she serious?
Heck, yeah. And here's why: Most of our audience is women. Women are amazingly creative but tend to want to THANK EVERYONE for the chances they've been given instead of riding through the corral, boots on and heels down, showing everyone that they're in charge.
You need to be in charge.
You need to be the captain of your ship. You need to be the person in charge, the one with a plan because you are the only one who can make that plan work and make that dream come true.
You can dilly dally.
You can fuss over this and that. So many do...
But if you attack this new career like a job, even a simple part-time job, and give it that dedication of an hour or two/day, you will begin amassing an enormous stockpile of work in a year or two.
Why is that important?
Because no one buys a blank page.
I love to see women take charge. I love seeing women square their shoulders, stick their chins in the air, and get the job done.
In the movie Willow, the little Nelwin "Willow Ufgood" is yearning to be the sorcerer's apprentice. The sorcerer holds out his gnarled, aged hands and asks the candidates to pick the finger with the power. Each one picks mistakenly. Afterward, the sorcerer asks Willow what his first instinct was, and Willow somewhat abashedly answers "I was going to pick my own finger."
"And that was the correct answer," said the aged sorcerer.
No matter where we are in this writing career, we shouldn't feel the need to look for power elsewhere.
Draw it from within.
Master your own destiny. Learn from other's mistakes, but that doesn't mean you have to follow their examples or timeline.
I have always admired production. Mary Connealy, Margaret Daley, Linda Goodnight, Karen White, Lisa Wingate, Nora Roberts, Shirlee Mccoy, Debbie Macomber, Lenora Worth, just to name a few. What these talented women share is the self-discipline to work daily... and to get the job done. They have shown all of us what can be accomplished if we just keep working.
A few weeks ago my buddy Vince mentioned writing a renowned classic.
You know, I have never worried about such things. If I can touch hearts and help troubled souls with sweet stories of longing and forgiveness, I'm happy. I have no need for stardom or awards or huge money...
I just like to write the kind of stories folks like to read. And I like to write them quickly.
BUT THAT'S ME.
And you don't have to be a Ruthy or a Mary or a Nora....
But if you're going to be running your own small business, you do better if you make a plan, then let the plan guide you.
It's all mathematical, darlings.
If you want to write three 60K books in a year, that's 180,000 words.
180,000/365 is just under 500 words/day. TWO PAGES, my loves.
I might not be big on planning and plotting my stories.... except in my head. But I do plan my work, my job, my business because planning that not only affects my pocketbook. It affects my life.
And while there are lots of things in life I cannot control... and as Shirlee Mccoy pointed out on facebook so succinctly this week, every writer deals with the stresses of life. No one is immune... the trick is to keep on working because while life throws you curves, the one thing you have full control over is your work. Your effort. Your production.
So tell me? Are you a pantser or a plotter in your writing? And how can you make yourself be a better planner when it comes to working?
Ruthy has a copy of her newest Love Inspired, a beautiful opening story to her new Western series "Shepherd's Crossing"... Wait, make that TWO COPIES!!!! Win it before you can buy it!
|This beautiful reunion story will make you smile and sigh... and then smile again.|
ruthloganherne.com and feel free to e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She loves to hear from you!