Readin’, writtin’, and ‘rithmatic…

How much time do you, as a writer put in on the various ‘skills’ necessary to get your book/story written? How much is your time worth? $10/hr, $50/hr, or???

How many books on ‘how to write’ (insert genre here) have you purchased and do you follow them?

How many hours do you spend in research? Do you go down ratholes? Do you use research to ‘verify’ something you put in the story, or do you do the research first, THEN write the story? Internet, actual books, or for research, or some combination of all three? Do you take road trips to visit locations (if you’re writing based on actual places)?

Do you have a schedule and stick to it? Write daily? Have more than one project going at a time? How do you handle writer’s block?

Outliner or pantser (you write the story as it develops in your head/characters)? Do you ‘argue’ with your characters?

Do you write the entire story first then edit, or do you edit the previous day’s output before writing the next day’s word count? Or some other variation (edit by chapters)? Do you self edit or pay an editor?

Who roofpreads your work? Spouse/SO/family? Asshole alpha and beta readers? Nobody except yourself? Are you a member of a writers or critique group?

Do you do your own covers/blurbs/keywords? How long does that take you? Or do you pay someone to do that?

Do you attend conferences? What tracks do you attend/follow at conferences? How do you ‘justify’ those costs?

How much marketing do you do? FB, blogs, newsletters, Twit, Instagram, other? Do you have business cards, bookmarks, or other swag to give away?

If you’ve made it this far, make a list of how you write, do all those other things, and track the hours you spend on each for something like a week. Now multiply that by how much each hour of your time is worth.

That will give you options if you’re spending too much time on specific tasks (specifically covers and editing). Remember, any hours not writing/researching may not be the ‘best’ use of your time.

Are there a set of answers? NO,THERE ARE NOT!  Now that I’ve confused the hell out of you, the real answer is we are all different. Each of us has different ways of doing all those things (or not as the case may be). As a writer, you have to do what works best for YOU! Advice, self help books, etc. are all well and good, but YOU have to develop your own ‘style’ if you will.

This one IS one that has an answer- Can you/do you write to deadlines and word counts if you’re involved in an anthology?

If the answer is yes, then you will probably be invited back to other anthologies. If you can’t, or have to keep asking for extensions, you may not want to try for anthologies.

Failure to meet deadlines and word counts will give you a negative reputation among other authors/publishers/etc.

I seldom recommend stuff, but I WILL recommend the Writer Dojo, HERE.  Larry and Steve cut through the BS, offer sound advice (you can take or leave it), and don’t pull any punches. I’ve followed them since they started it, and I have learned a number of very good things from these two guys!







Readin’, writtin’, and ‘rithmatic… — 13 Comments

  1. Essh… I’ve done all of those at one point or another. I’ve also figured out how much I make ‘per hour’ and once upon a time it wasn’t very much. Like well under min wage.
    It’s gotten a lot better now though.

    I have read books on writing and dialogue. The best writing book was ‘How to write Science Fiction and Fantasy’ by Orson Scott Card. That was the one that gave me my ‘ah-ha’ moment. But honestly I haven’t read a book on writing since… sometime in the 90’s I think.

    Again, I’ve tried or used every technique described above and have tricks I use, that I’ve come up with over the years for so many different things/issues/problems/etc. I started out as a pantser, went to plotter, and right now I’m more pantser than plotter, but I do go back and forth depending on what I’m working on.

    The hours I put in? My schedule changes from series to series. I try to write every weekday and usually manage a fair number of hours doing that, but that’s just the actual practice of putting words on the page. There’s other stuff involved as well and that goes on a lot too. But my ‘worst’ was when I was doing 17 – 18 hours a day, 6 days a week, (plus about 10 on Sundays) and I did that for three years straight. Talk about burnout!

    Right now I think I put in 8 to 12 hours a day and I’m taking off weekends and working half a day on Thursdays.

    I could go on for hours about all the different things I’ve done for this job. I have, for example, spent several days doing physics calculations for specific things in stories (that BSEE comes in handy). I have gone to places either in person, or via google maps. I’ve dug through hundreds of years of history texts for several different organizations. I’ve also interviewed a few people as well over how certain things work, or about local folklore. There are also a lot of events from my past that I use. Things I was lucky or privileged enough to have been there to witness (and in some cases survive).

    It’s definitely one of the weirdest jobs I’ve ever had, but I enjoy it too much to quit.

    • I’ll enthusiastically second the recommendation for Orson Scott Card’s book. Also, his book on characterization, also done for Writers’ Digest.

      Dwight Swain’s _Technique of a Selling Writer_ is another one. The examples are (perhaps) a little dated, but his ideas about how to keep readers reading and how to break a story into pieces . . . priceless. He was writing for people who wanted to break into the pulps and other genre-fiction markets.

  2. I’m still learning what works, but writing is starting to be fun again.

  3. I write daily. I’m a pantser. Do lots and lots of research, especially for anything vaguely history related. Hire editors or invite readers to typo hunt and such like. Marketing? My blog and that’s it. No conferences really, other than the occasional Con. I’ve been: a pilot, lab tech, research historian, tour leader and organizer, teacher. I shoot, used to fence (pointy kind, not cedar post kind), garden, ride horses, cook, repair clothing, speak two languages fluently and bits of others, am a semi-professional musician. All of that influences my writing.

    And I still can’t figure out the directions on the new stove at RedQuarters. *resigned shrug*

  4. John/TXRed- This is my point. 🙂 EVERYONE does it differently…

    JMI- Good!

    WSF- Thank you, but you’ve been blogging for how many years? So you’re a writer too!

    TXRed- And we all bow in homage to your abilities!!! 😉

    • Well I can’t tell people to ‘do it my way’ as I still haven’t quite figured out exactly what ‘my way’ is…


  5. I’m enjoying the books immensely, from all y’all. Starting to raid my idea files and directories, writing short stories or vignettes for a blog. I can see ideas that work for me, part or in full, and ways to structure interesting tales and twists.

    I had to be way too serious, referenced, and data-driven for a very long time, and a lot of creative starts or ideas went into a separate compartment from Day Job. Took a while to pull them back out and write for fun and enjoyment, not for [Big Title way up the chain].

  6. This is an excellent post. As well as being an LSP, which is honorable, I’m also an editor and dear Lord, what utter rubbish! Like no kidding, “Tell me, bishop, is your first language English?”

    Part of the problem is that people, even those with doctorates, aren’t necessarily very educated. So they find it hard to rite and spel much less wryte fixion. Problem.

    Solution? You provided it in this post.

  7. I’m not an author. I do a lot of tech writing, manuals and that shit, and the one thing I CAN do is have the copy ready at deadline. I do one-off museum installations. Design, fab, whole 9 yards. When I turn it in (on time) I don’t have some sketches. I have a functioning prototype (which may need to be scaled up), a parts list and sources, troubleshooting guide, operator’s manual. It’s all fun.

  8. Nobody roofpreads my work.

    Proofreading, now, that’s a different story.