Friday, March 11, 2011
Welcome to Ericka Scott
Writing Schedules and How to Break Them
I’m sure you’ve all heard the old adage “Write everyday”
How important is that?
In my opinion, having a set writing schedule is a vital part of becoming a professional writer Elizabeth George says in Write Away, her book about the process of writing, ‘a lot of writing is being willing to show up day after day, same time, same place’. My personal writing schedule is from Monday to Friday, 10 am – 2 pm, which roughly coincides with when my kids are in school. I also endeavor to write a minimum of 100 words (or edit 5 pages if I’m in the editing phase) on the weekends.
However, when it comes to “writing”, my definition is a bit more flexible. I think that any activity dedicated to improving my craft or opening opportunities for my career count as “writing”. Yes, even doing taxes counts as a career activity. Included in my writing schedule is time for these other activities:
Theoretically, you should be writing stories in the genre you most like to read. I encourage this for several reasons. One is so that you know the expectations of your audience. The second is to keep up with trends. If you write paranormal romance, you “know” vampires and werewolves are in. But will that trend continue? And is that the only trend out there? Steampunk, were-creatures, and Greek gods & goddesses are also quite popular. Gothic romances have been ‘out’ for quite some time, yet there is still a small audience craving them.
For all that, I’m not advocating that you only read what you write. Knowing what else is out there – thrillers, horror, literary, cozy mystery, Noir detective – and incorporating the things you enjoy about those genres into your work adds depth and originality to your stories.
· Continuing Education
The importance of continuing to learn to write better cannot be emphasized enough. Magazine articles, books, online courses, and participating in critique groups all play a part in advancing an author’s career. As such, they need to be scheduled (sometimes crow-barred) in. I feel learning is as important as writing, and will sometimes dedicate a whole week to reading articles.
Critique groups are invaluable. Some authors only utilize beta-readers, as they don’t feel they have the time to take away from their own writing to look at someone else’s work. I think this is a bit short sighted. I learn as much, or more, about writing and what works and doesn’t work from critiquing. If the words I write after the critique are better for what I’ve learned, it’s well worth ‘losing’ a day or two of writing, which for me equates from 100-1000 words.
· Vacations/Sick Days/Personal Days
Having a set writing schedule (and sticking to it) is all well and good until LIFE intervenes. Even in a normal 9-5 job, one is required to take time off for vacations, sick days, and personal days.
The same should go for your writing career. Yes, there are some really prolific writers who take a computer everywhere and write constantly. Nora Roberts writes 8 hours a day every day and I’ve heard anecdotes claiming she even writes while riding in the limo from the airport to conferences. Be as disciplined as you can…if you can only write one hour a day, make sure your butt is in your chair and you focus on your career for that hour.
I’ll admit that this year, I set about writing a minimum of 100 new words every single day, whether I did any other career-related activities or not. That lasted for a whole month…then LIFE intervened, and I had to take an unexpected 10 days off. My payoff for five years of fairly disciplined writing was that when I returned, I was able to pick up right where I’d left off (well, after wading through over 1,000 e-mails) and have been writing every day since.
It’s my view that authors who “write” every day will see positive changes in their manuscripts and their career. It’s worked for Nora Roberts and Stephen King…it can work for you!
Ericka also loves friends, so come friend her at http://myspace.com/erickascott
She's also on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ericka.scott and Twitter @ErickaScott
You can find out more about her books at http://www.erickascott.com/
Many thanks for being with us today, Ericka - and for your very useful advice. We wish you continued success with your books.