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Sunday, 17 June 2012

Bev Robitai on adding time to writing

In today’s whizz-bang, ever-spinning-faster world, there are plenty of authors making a nice living by popping out books every couple of months. OK, the works are usually shorter than normal books, and they’re probably in a series so much of the world-building work has already been done, but how do the writers manage to get the quality level high enough to achieve the mega-sales that  keep them in luxury? How do they keep up with their clamouring fans and give them new stories so rapidly? And they’re still on Facebook every day as well! If you want an example of the sort of writer I mean, have a look at Hugh Howey and his ‘Wool’ series.

I find that writing is like cooking. Most dishes need not just the ingredients, but a specific period of time as part of the production process to bring out all the flavours and textures. You can’t make instant bread – you have to let the dough mature. Writing improves too with extra time spent on it. Not just to spot all the typos and grammar hiccups that snuck in while you were typing, but to allow you to think about alternative plot lines, cleverer responses, and all the little touches that would make the piece better.

But dammit I wish I could churn out slick little pot-boilers and make a fortune!

Note to self: allowing time for a piece to mature is fine, but don’t forget your deadline. Sorry folks, should have posted this on Friday! It is possible to take too MUCH time to get things right.

1 comment:

  1. The way to make money from our writing is to treat it like a business. Let’s forget this ‘artist in a garret’ thing or the ‘waiting for the kiss of the muse’ thing and look at our talent and ability as the machinery that is going to make us a living. We don’t have to work harder, we have to work smarter.
    Here are a few ideas that will help:
    1. Decide on the number of hours a day we are going to set aside for writing. For me, 3 hours a day is about right.
    2. How many words a day is another way to discipline ourselves. 1,000 words a day is just over three pages. We should be able to manage that. At 1,000 words a day we could have a book every 2 – 3 months. Having a goal like 1,000 words a day means we have something to aspire to.
    3. Be passionate about what we’re doing. We will never succeed unless the book is burning to be written. But keep in mind the market. Writing the book WE want to read may be all very well, but will it sell?
    4. Write a series. Readers will always ask you ‘what happens to ...’ and you had better have an answer. In this way we can also cut down on research. Check out Charles Todd’s books set post WWI. Or Anne Perry. Once you’re in the niche, stay there.
    5. Set aside some time every day for emails and surfing the ‘Net. We need to be constantly updating our websites, blogging, etc. But keep away from Free Cell. It’s murder on our schedule!