Saturday, May 18

The Key To Being A Productive Writer: Prioritize

The Key To Being A Productive Writer: Prioritize

Writing 3,000 words a day is hard.

I can just imagine Dean Wesley Smith shaking his head saying, "You think writing three hours a day is hard work?!"

Well, no. Writing for three hours a day is, to a certain extent, the easy part. After all, I already wrote about 1,000 words of non-fiction and 1,000 words of fiction a day.

There's also--I'm not going to say 're-writing'--but there is editing. At least there is for me. That's another two hours a day. Then there's my blog--two posts a day takes about four hours. Sorting through and answering my email, reading other blogs, keeping up with Twitter, all that takes another two hours.

Lately I've put aside an hour a day to do nothing but read, but--necessary though it is--that is time I'm not writing.

These past few days I've become acutely aware that I spend most of my working day on things that, while good and productive in their own way, keep me from putting my butt in my chair and writing fiction.

But that has changed, which is why I didn't blog at all yesterday: I was busy writing.

I've decided I need to make some sacrifices. One of these is that I won't be blogging twice a day anymore. To be honest, I'm not completely sure how much I'll be blogging. I've been thinking about writing a post a day, or perhaps five posts a week like Chuck Wendig.

Speaking of Chuck Wendig, this is really his fault, him and Dean Wesley Smith and Kris Rusch. Actually, Kris started it all by mentioning she wrote one million words in 2012.

One million!

The thought boggled me. I imagined Kris sitting at her computer typing away in a blue bodysuit with a red "W" on the front and a red cape falling gracefully from her shoulders. In my imagination I gave her the name: Superwriter.

Then recently Chuck Wendig revealed that he, too, is a member of the one million words a year club. That's 3,000 words a day, each and every day.

My first thought was that it would be hard never having a day off.

But then I did something Dean Wesley Smith is always encouraging writers to do (see here, here and here) and I ran the numbers.

Guess what I found? Assuming that one's books are moderately successful (and that's a BIG if), if one writes a million words a year, chances are good that, at the end of five years, a writer can make a reasonable living.

Now, I'm not saying that one has to write a million words a year for five years to make a reasonable living as a writer.

Not at all!

One or more of your books could be a bestseller, and if that book is part of a series then chances are you'll be well on your way to making a decent living.

But hoping that one's books will be bestsellers is a much bigger IF than hoping each of one's books does moderately well. Thus my goal of writing a million words a year for the next five years.

Yes, folks, that's the goal! Whether I'll end up doing that, I don't know, but I'm certainly going to try.

It's difficult re-aligning one's life, one's priorities, so that can happen. It takes time, and it has been difficult for me to decide what to let go. I'm not letting go of this blog, I find it too rewarding, on a personal level as well as a professional one. I've learnt so much. Both through my own research and from your many insightful comments.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that this will be a learning process for me and I hope you will forgive me if I don't post as much as I used to.

And, by all means, if you would like to see a post on a certain topic, please leave a comment or contact me here.

I'll be sure to keep you updated on how it's going.


Other articles you might like:

- Indie Writers Can Now Get Their Books Into Bookstores
- What Do Aaron Sorkin, Stealing, And Advice About Writing Have In Common?
- 4 Ways Outlining Can Give A Writer Confidence

Photo credit: "London Calling #5" by Thomas Leuthard under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.


  1. The one who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. ~Confucius
    I'll extrapolate. The one who conquers the mountain or the journey, begins by placing one step in front of the other. Step by step - never go back, never stand still, always push forward.

    If you have a recording device - put it in your purse, then go out in a quiet place, be it a quiet street or park. Let the wounds of your imagination bleed out into the real world, and warp all senses to grasp this new alien reality. Push record, and describe what you see. Let the majesty of the sight and the beauty of the sound dictate the measure of your voice. And believe you me, your head will birth a myriad of futures - all of them pulsing the blood from the meat of your mind. The creator's soul shattered in a million pieces, each of them writing their own words.
    Have fun, Karen.

    1. Thanks Serban!

      BTW, I loved this part: "Let the wounds of your imagination bleed out into the real world, and warp all senses to grasp this new alien reality."

      Wow. Evocative.

  2. This is one I've been thinking about a lot lately. I seem to spend so much time marketing, blogging, and social media, and while I enjoy that too, helping sell books does only so much if you don't have new books to sell. The truth is, I need to write more, and to do that, I need to prioritise writing.

    Now I just need to work out how to do that.

    1. "helping sell books does only so much if you don't have new books to sell."

      Yes! I agree. I think that, until a writer has a few books on the market, the best way of marketing a book is not write another book.

    2. lol Okay, I'm not awake. I meant, 'the best way of marketing a book is TO write another book'.

      Sometimes, I swear, my muse likes having fun with me. ;)

  3. Two blog posts a day -- what? As Stephen King said: If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write. Denise


Because of the number of bots leaving spam I had to prevent anonymous posting. My apologies. I do appreciate each and every comment.