Organization ups your odds

I was recently put on a blog calendar. The topic? I’ve been instructed to talk about how I organize my writing time. I have until August to answer the question, but I’m already thinking hard about the fact that I am quite disorganized when it comes to writing. Perhaps this blog can signal a new beginning …

Twice in the past month, I’ve heard the following strongly stated: writing is a business and must be treated like one. At a seminar that I attended this past weekend, Bob Mayer—a professional writer of thrillers—said that he writes 1,000 words before he will allow himself to open his e-mails. I need to adopt a similar rule, since I probably haven’t written 1,000 words in the past week.

I’ve been known to take pride in saying that if I’ve written at least one sentence I’ve fulfilled my goal of writing for that day. Those are the words of someone who doesn’t take writing seriously—one who writes as a hobby. I’ve quit saying that now, and have set a new goal for myself of 250 words per day. Why not 1,000? Since writing doesn’t pay my bills yet, and since I have two teenagers who require a lot of mental energy, I think that 250 words is a more realistic goal for me, and it’s a darn sight better than 5-10 words per day. I’ll build up to 1,000.

Another thing that Bob Mayer recommended, to get more organized, is to put each scene completed on an Excel spreadsheet, detailing page numbers, characters involved, what happened, etc. A spreadsheet is much too left-brained for me, but I’m going to try keeping a written log of scenes. Since I’m a person who doesn’t outline my story ahead of time, I unfortunately have some of those “Oh, nuts!” moments—when I realize I have to change a plot point. It would help tremendously to have a log of the scenes, so that I could easily see what needs to be changed—relative to that plot point—throughout the book.

Lately, I’ve gotten caught up in a time-suck of promotional stuff. But what I need to remember is that, without a book there is nothing to promote. Another thing Bob Mayer said is that once a book is released, “it’s not your baby anymore: it’s a product,” and that while you’re promoting it’s important to start writing that next book—making that next baby. Love Trumps Logic has been released. Now it’s time for me to get serious about the next baby.

I’ll end by sharing an interesting statistic that Bob Mayer gave at his novel writing presentation: “In 2004, there were 1.2 million titles altogether. 950,000 of them sold less than 99 copies.” More fun Bob Mayer statistics: 90% of first novels ‘fail,’ and 99% of novelists are not writing ten years later.

How does a writer beat those odds? With a strong mix of talent and organized persistence!

Lucy Balch

Love Trumps Logic


Filed under writing

3 responses to “Organization ups your odds

  1. And if the muse is not present what do you write, a shopping list? I do a lot of thinking about what I am going to write but don’t necessarily write all the time. When I finally do the writing it seems to come a lot easier. But that’s just me.

    • Lucy

      Everyone has to find their own way. Sticking to Bob Mayer’s advice again, he says that writers block is either 1) laziness, 2) right brain/left brain conflict (the editor is in charge instead of the writer), or 3) it’s your subconscience telling you to stop (meaning there is a problem with you story that you haven’t acknowledged yet).
      Ways to overcome it? 1) research some more, 2) realize that you can write the same regardless of emotion, 3) outline a future book….etc.
      What I typically do is just start writing, knowing that it’s most likely garbage, but hoping that the creative spark will resurface given faith and time.
      Sometimes it actually works!

  2. christinehusom

    I like the goal of writing 1,000 words a day. For me, weeks pass when I don’t write one word between running a business and the many other things I’m involved with. But, I am always thinking about my characters and storyline, so when I sit down, it often goes pretty well.

    I can’t see myself doing a spread sheet, either. I’m also a terrible outliner. But, as I write, I keep track of my chapters, either before, or after, I write them. I jot down a few key points, and the page number so it’s easy find them if I need to make changes.

    I’m in a crunch to get this nex book done, so I’d love to be able to write 3,000 on the days I get to be home to write. I hit 2,600 one day.

    I like Bob’s rule of writing 1,000 words before he opens his emails. I try to do something similar, but find I need little mental breaks from writing. It’s either check the emails, or find something to eat and all the Easter candy is tempting enough!

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