Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tipsy Tuesday

I wanna be like Nora Roberts. Not in my style of writing, but in the sheer prolificness (I know, that's not really a word, but I like it!).

Since her first book was released in 1981, she's published 211 books. That’s approximately one book every 7 weeks. That's what I call prolific!

Realistically, if I really put the pedal to the metal, I can write a book in about 3 months. I would hope I would have more output if I didn't have that pesky day job (that I'm grateful for, really. Two weeks of unemployment here recently made me more anxious than I care to repeat.)

It takes me at least two or three weeks--sometimes longer--to just plot the book. So it's beyond me, at the moment, how she does it. Other than the fact that a) there's a huge amount of natural talent there and b) she's a professional with an established writing process that’s been honed over the decades. It's all intuitive for her now, and that cuts down on a lot of preparation we mere mortals have to do.

Here's what I know works:

  1. Set attainable goals and deadlines, and stick to them. Don't sabotage yourself by setting a goal of, say, 1,000 words a day when you know you can only do 250 because the kids keep interrupting or the cat keeps plopping down on the keyboard. But whatever goal/deadline you set, meet them. You owe it to yourself.
  2. Recognize the things you use as procrastination tools, and stop it.
  3. Know your writing process, continually refine it, and set aside time to work it every day. Don't allow your writing to be something you get to when you "have time." That doesn't work.
  4. Focus on one project at a time. This is important especially for new writers. I will admit, though, that often I have more than one project going so that if I get stuck on one I can shift gears and work on the other, and in that way I don't lose valuable time.
  5. Get the first draft out fast, warts and all, and then fix it afterward. (As Nora says, you can't fix a blank page.)
  6. Use a one-pass revision process--go from first draft to final in a single edit. In your final self-edit, before you send the manuscript off to an agent or editor, read the entire book out loud. This will help you see how the story flows, where repeated words are, etc.
  7. Don't worry whether you're a plotter (obviously, one who plots the book before beginning to write it) or a pantser (one who writes by the seat of his/her pants). Just write. But be prepared to have to concoct a plot in order to write a synopsis. If you ever are in the happy situation of selling on proposal, you generally have to submit a synopsis of the story (which will contain at the very least the romance plot and probably the suspense plot or paranormal plot or whatever) as well as the first three chapters. Get out of the mindset that "if I write a synopsis I feel like I've written the book and so I can't go on". That's bull-hockey. It's an excuse you need to get rid of right now.
Any other tips you have?

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