This is no secret. If you want to succeed as an author, you have to put the butt in the chair and write. You can whine. I do. Sometimes, I’ll even whine with wine. But if I want to make it—and I do. I really, really do!—then I get my ass in that chair and I write the damned words.
That’s only part of the habit formation, though. You need to know what triggers you to write so you can do it on command, and how productive you are on a regular basis so you can create a production schedule that works with and for you.
The Real Conversation
You need to have a realistic conversation with yourself. You’re probably not going to be an overnight success. A lot of “overnight successes” took years or decades to cultivate.
You’ve got a lot to learn.
You probably have several habits to break.
You may need to heal your finances or work your schedule to be more forgiving so that stress isn’t wearing you thin and spending your energy pennies unnecessarily.
You may need to wait for kids to grow up and be able to survive on their own at least for one blessed hour.
Whatever your bag of I can’t is, you need to document it so you can have a real conversation about how you’re going to turn each one of these into I can’s.
Right now, though, we’re only focusing on productivity.
How many words can you write in an hour? A day? A week? A month? Two months? Three months? A year?
If you document your word-writing metrics for a week, you won’t be able to answer these questions because we have natural energy flows that hit us during the day, the week, the month, from month to month, and throughout the year. I can tell you that my energy drops like an elevator without brakes from 2 p.m. – 4:40 p.m. every day. Tuesdays are my least productive days of the week. And I have a low energy curve on the second week of almost every month, which follows the excessively high energy curve of the first week of every month.
Invest the time to figure out how many words you can write consistently in one year.
Remember that we are working toward your career and your marketing plan. Your marketing plan is a promise to your readers: If you invest in me this time, I promise to consistently produce and not let you down. Again.
I can write 530K words in a year. That’s working a full job, whining full-time, editing, marketing, doing graphics, doing my own covers, my own websites, Facebooking for freaking hours. 530,000 words every year.
They’re not all successes. I had one series absolutely bomb. I’ve since pulled it. I’m going to relaunch it in 2020 under a new pen name with an entire set of other books.
I had another one crash and burn and it’s in the horrible stages of words spilled on the table like intestines – aka, edits of the horrible kind.
I focused for a long time on getting the words, and now I’m focusing on getting the right words, so I’m slowing down a little and getting better content the first time.
I can tell you one thing. I’m not consistent, and my readers don’t like that.
I’ve been documenting my words and launches and productivity for years. I can tell you that I am not the type of author who can write and launch books every month. My readers are okay with that. They’d prefer it if I could just write and launch books every other month or every three or four or six months.
If only I could be consistent.
Saving Pennies to Spend Pennies
Going back to that Becca Syme reference because it’s the penny that keeps spending. When I create a schedule based on the metrics inside my head, I create schedules I can’t maintain. I know that I can occasionally write 5K in an hour. I am capable of that.
But when I create a schedule using those metrics, I kill myself.
When I create a schedule and a plan based on metrics I can maintain and keep a healthy lifestyle, I am filled with more energy and I produce more quality products in a year.
The reason for this is energy pennies. When you’re fighting yourself to make yourself work, you spend pennies faster. When you’re working with yourself to make yourself work, you spend fewer pennies to do the same amount of work.
So, here’s the question: What are your metrics?
- How many words do you write consistently in a day/ week / month / year?
- How many words/pages can you edit well in a day/ week / month / year?
- How long does it take you to market in a day/ week / month / year?
- How long does it take you to format, upload, and publish in a day/ week / month / year?
Homework: Keep a journal over the next few weeks to the next year and track your time.