by Victoria Greene, @vickyecommerce
You’ve made up your mind; the ideas are there and so is the drive, but just how difficult is it to become a successful author? After all, so many people set their hearts on writing a book, yet only a fraction of those who begin ever make it to the end. The problem is, writing is all too easily put aside for other things, delayed one more day, or excused due to writer’s block.
Maintaining your productivity levels after an initial burst of enthusiasm is often the biggest challenge. Once your momentum declines, and progress begins to slow, it can be extremely discouraging. Meanwhile, productivity mantras urging you to write every day can quickly begin to feel more like criticisms than encouragement.
Yet there will be other days when writing feels like second nature, and the words will flow readily onto the page. So what can you do to ensure you have more of those days than the other kind? Fortunately, this is easier than it sounds. By identifying the things that are slowing you down, and developing positive working habits, you can dramatically increase your productive potential.
Planning the Path To Success
As with every creative pursuit, if you wish to succeed as an author, you need to approach your work with the same commitment and conviction as you would any other long-term goal. Plan ahead, know your limits, and be prepared for the days when it simply isn’t fun.
Set clear goals for each month, and break those down into manageable weekly targets. This means you always know what you’re working towards, and you can quickly identify where your sticking points are. If there is one project that always holds you back, it may be time to reevaluate how you approach it.
- Decide how much time you can spare for writing each week, and schedule accordingly
- Set daily priorities and aim to get the most important tasks out of the way first
- Schedule time for breaks. Insufficient rest will eventually wear you down, which will ultimately decrease the quality of your writing
- Reward yourself. Productivity is hugely influenced by your state of mind, so you can reinforce good habits by rewarding yourself for successfully reaching your goals
- Take some time away from your workspace. When you take breaks, try to leave your work area, even if you just go into the next room
- Where possible, get some fresh air and exercise. Writing is a sedentary pursuit and it is too easy to find yourself stuck indoors for days at a time, barely leaving your desk
Know What You Want
To give yourself the best shot at becoming a successful author, you need to have a clear picture of what you hope to achieve and why. Think about what you are willing to give up in order to be able to give your writing the time and commitment necessary.
To maximize your productivity, you will need to identify the things that distract you or slow you down. This may mean using web-blocking apps such as Freedom or SelfControl, or even turning off the internet altogether.
Identifying bad habits is also part of this process. Are you the sort of person who can spend an hour worrying about a single sentence? Learn to recognize that your writing does not need to be perfect on the first runthrough. Set yourself a maximum time for dwelling on an individual issue, and when that time is up, you need to leave it and continue writing. You can return to it with a fresh mind at a later date.
Failure Is Part of the Process
Not every day will go according to plan, not every manuscript will be perfect, and not every idea will turn out to be as great as it first seemed. These apparent failures can often be demoralizing, yet they are a natural part of your development as an author.
For every finished work, think how many drafts have been discarded, and for every 1,000 words you have written, how many have you deleted along the way? Yet it is far easier to perceive these alterations as contributing to the creative process.
That is not to suggest you should dismiss your failures, any more than you would ignore a typographical error. The trick is to recognize when things aren’t working, and figure out how to fix them.
Promoting Your Work
Of course, completing a written work is not the end of the journey. To be able to sell your work and raise your profile as an author, you need to ensure that people can find you. Websites such as Goodreads enable you to host Q&A sessions, and even offer physical or digital copies of your book in their giveaways, which can be a great way to get some early publicity. Meanwhile, in addition to turnkey self-publishing platforms like Amazon’s Kindle, you could consider selling your work directly through your own website.
Ecommerce CMS platforms such as Shopify can facilitate this process by handling many of the time-consuming aspects of creating a functional and coherent ecommerce website. This then frees you up to focus your marketing efforts elsewhere, and, of course, to begin working on your next project.
Be Your Own Boss
Whether you are just starting out, or a developing author looking for ways to refine your approach, the most important thing to remember is to do what works for you. Like every endeavor, writing takes time, energy, and dedication, so you need to make sure that you plan accordingly.
Everyone works differently, and only you can determine how often and how much you are prepared to write. Even so, while it may take some trial and error to find your groove, if you keep these techniques in mind along the way, you will arrive fully equipped to be the focused, prolific, and successful author you already knew you could become.
Victoria Greene is a brand marketing consultant and freelance writer. She has her own blog at VictoriaEcommerce, as well as writing for other websites. Victoria is a big advocate of maintaining good writerly habits and using tech to help stay productive.