Writing Tips: Writing as a Business, and a New Start
Posted: February 29, 2020
When it comes to writing, my latest challenge is consistency. Over the past year, I've made some progress, had some good spurts, and started a few new stories, but if I'm being honest, my efforts at writing have been sporadic at best. To put it another way, I have too many stories started and not enough completed (there are currently 9 stories in progress on my website, and a few more on my computer).
This is an observation, not a criticism. After all, it is a balancing act, between my family (my one and a half year-old daughter keeps jumping on and off of me as I'm writing this), my full-time work, my part-time writing, and the many other activities that constitute my life.
Recently, I started pondering if there is something I can do to improve the situation, something that fits within the balance I've established while getting me closer to my goals. One piece of advice kept coming back to mind: organize your writing as if it is a business.
A few days ago, a fellow author shared a video by Diane Callahan (see below) in a group on writing on Facebook. In it, Diane shares three pieces of writing advice that changed her life, the second of which is "Treat your Writing Like a Business". Sometimes, it only takes a few words to change your perspective on something. In her video, Diane shares that she always thought that treating her writing like a business felt cold and clinical, that it went against her view that writing was an art and a craft. I realized that I had the same reservation. Diane went on to say that if you write with a business attitude, it will impact your output, increasing the quantity of material you produce. This, in turn, made her feel better about her productivity, without lessening her enjoyment. That last part was what I needed to hear to give it a try.
The important word here is "attitude". Treating your writing like a business is a mindset. It doesn't matter how you label it, the result will be, or should be, more consistent writing and better results, which is what I'm after.
The difficult part is always the doing, and I believe this is where my hesitation has been over the past few months. I've been afraid to commit, afraid to set goals, and then, face the disappointment of not meeting those goals... My biggest mistake in all this was to assume failure without trying.
Until yesterday, I did not know what shape this new mindset would take. There are many approaches to running a business and for me, the reality remains that it must balance with the other priorities in my life. If it doesn't, I won't keep up with it.
So, after thinking about it for a while, I've decided to implement the following measures:
- Show up 5 days a week
- Set a deadline for revisions and drafts
- Set an average daily word target (500 words)
- Write anytime, anywhere
- Share the progress on Twitter
For me, because I mostly write before going to bed, it is easy to skip writing when it is late or if I'm tired. If I had a business, I would expect my employees to show up. So, with the first item on my list, I commit to show up, sit down, and write (something, anything...). Then, I've decided to set deadlines. During the day, I'm a manager and deadlines are a common occurrence. It keeps things moving, make us accountable, and helps greatly with planning (knowing what needs to be done, and when). The same benefits apply with writing. For my third objective, I decided to set a daily word target. It's something I've never been a fan of over the years, but I think it's time to give it another try. I'll aim to get an average of 500 words per day, including revisions, re-writes, or blog posts (any writing counts). It might seem like a low bar, but my main goal is to be consistent and write (I'll keep the rush for NaNoWriMo in November, where the target is 1,667 words per day). The next item is an important one for me. I tend to wait until I can sit for an hour or more, in the quiet of my bedroom, to write. I need to stop waiting for the perfect conditions. I think that putting it down as a clear goal will help change the behaviour. And finally, I've decided to be transparent about the whole thing and will be sharing my progress on Twitter, including some tips I learn along the way, all under the hashtags #SCEstonIsWriting. I have no idea if anyone will be interested in following my progress, but it'll be fun and sharing will be an extra motivation to keep it up.
Follow my progress on Twitter
So, here it is: my new writing plan, my commitment to myself and my writing. It may not look like much, but it may just bring the focus I need at this point. Now, let's dive in and see if it works.