Monday, December 7, 2009

Do you see writing as a business? Should you?

First off! WOOHOO. GO DOLPHINS. YAY!

Okay.

Now.

I once heard of a Pulitzer Prize nominee who makes a list every night about the next day. Which scenes need fixing, how many words he plans on writing, everything is set up for the next day. Then when his day begins, he gets the ol' butt in the chair and writes. He knows exactly what has to be attended to, because he has his list. This writer can keep to his mission for hours. And he admits not everything always gets done. But that's okay. The stuff that doesn't get done moves to the top of the next days list. He calls this process "positioning." This writer says he owns a business, and like any business owner he is crystal clear about what he needs to do.

Positioning helps this writer stay driven.

On the days that we write, but we don't finish, or we have trouble focusing, have we stayed absorbed with our writing? Probably not. And on those days we don't have to feel guilty. Just try harder the next day.

A writer blogged about how disgusted she was that she didn't get more done on her project for nano. But she did get a lot of words down. She just didn't get 50,000. I think she won anyway. She actually had the nerve to attempt it. And I believe she has enough to have a book. She just needs to stay determined to finish it.

Don't beat yourself up. But it is a business. And maybe we need to remember that from time to time. :)

38 comments:

  1. Gee, that sounds like too much work, and stress to me. : )

    Is there a point when we should take this business like approach to our writing? Should it always apply? Is it too much stress for a newbie aspiring writer?

    Great post, and definitely food for thought. I'm just not sure I want to take the joy out of writing by having a major checklist I have to follow. Half the fun for me is all of a sudden realizing the story has gone in a new and better direction. Do we limit that direction by making such a detailed plan?

    Great, Robyn's made me think first thing on a Monday morning. She's just lucky I don't have a post on my blog today, or I'd do a little advertising spiel right here and now. : )

    S

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  2. Hey! Say something about the Fins beating New England. Something!

    And I know what you are saying about the detailed plan. But I think the plan is more of a way for him to focus. Which is good. And I bet if his scene takes a dramatic turn, he follow it. I think it's more of a road map.

    And no post today?? I've been checking. Wondering. And I sing like your poor MOM. HUMPH!

    I've made out a bill for you. Where can I send it? :)

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  3. Dolphins?? Please, they're so . . . not my team of choice, not the Titans did much this weekend, but, they were playing the Colts, and Peyton was the star quarterback at UT . . .

    I think having a plan is great, but, for me at least, too much detail takes the joy out of writing. I think a semi-plan would work best for me.

    Nope, no post today, maybe I'll have time at luch. I have an idea or two lurking in the recesses of my mind. Very, very deep in the recesses of my mind to protect it from a certain person's ability to dig out post ideas. Ha!

    I sing like my Mom too . . . which is why I don't sing in public! Now, in the privacy of my own home . . .

    S

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  4. Peyton who?? :) I thought there was only one team to love. The Fins!

    And semi plan is good. I think that is what I have going.

    I'm heading in. It's scary in here. HAHAHA Gotta have some ideas for future posts. Do you have a headache right about now? :)

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  5. Robyn, okay so I see Scott's point about a checklist taking the fun out, but I see your point, too. It is easy to let life stuff keep us from writing but if we want to be professional writers we need to be our own boss and that means discipline.
    I'm going to noodle this concept of positioning. I think I did that on the most simplistic level in NaNo. I simply said you must write the next 2,000 words tomorrow--so what happens next? And it worked.

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  6. I've heard many times that to succeed as a writer you need to be a professional about it. That would definitely include positioning (I like that word instead of planning, makes far more sense in such a subjective business).

    I think perseverence goes hand-in-hand with positioning. Don't get defeated if you don't meet your daily agenda, just bump it forward and keep moving ahead.

    Thanks, Robyn for this and for your comment on my blog. I'm in deep prayer about this YA story. Would you happen to have any suggested reading of good ones out there for me to study?

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  7. This SO reminds me of Nancy J. Parra's blog last Sunday (Nov 29) at http://nancyjparra.blogspot.com/. She gave actual statistics of how many people want to write, how many people actually do, how many finish stories, and so on. I don't think you can read it without feeling proud of yourself. You've already accomplished so much just starting a story-telling task. It's amazing. Thanks, Robyn, for making be feel good about what I've accomplished!

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  8. I'm hiding my actual idea behind a bunch of fake ideas that might be potential ideas, so you'll never know if it's going to be a post or not! Ha!

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  9. Tricia, agreed. Positioning works. And it works well, just because you position doesn't mean it takes the fun out. Any scene can change whether we position or not. It is the only way for me. I am glad your nano went so well. And you did positioning at some level. And it worked. YAY! :)

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  10. Eileen, I like the word positioning far better than planning too. And never beat yourself up over missing goals that you positioned for a certain day. Just move them to the top of the list the next day.

    As far as great YA books I have some for you. I'll be back over to your blog and give them to you. :) I'm going to put this in my prayer journal about you writing YA. I'm very excited about it. :)

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  11. You are exactly right Robyn! If I approach this from a business angle I'm sure I'd be surprised at how things progress.

    Thanks for the push in the right direction!

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  12. Linda, I missed that blog post, but I will go and read it after school. (math test happening here right now.) :)

    And girl! You should feel good. I am so PROUD to call you my pal. I have learned so much from you. Thank you! I will ALWAYS be indebted to you. You have taught me a lot. :)

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  13. Scott, you DO know I can tell the fake ideas from the real ones, right? And I CAN weed out the potential ideas from the really, really fake ones too. You DO realize this, don't ya?

    Is your head pounding right about now? Ahahahahaaha

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  14. Tamika, it works. Because it is a job. We need to think of it in those terms. It doesn't stifle our creativity, just pushes it out where we need it to be. :)

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  15. I could say go Broncos but I'm just not that into them this year. I've been rooting for New Orleans and Indianapolis since before the season started. Go Saints and Colts!

    Those are good words of encouragement for today. Writing is hard sometimes and even though we might not make the goals we have set for ourselves, as long as we're still working hard and doing our best, we should celebrate the small victories.

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  16. Great topic. When I resigned from my teaching job two years ago to write full-time I pretty much disappeared into a cave and wrote. I had been writing part time for several years. Now, I made it my job. I surfaced to do agent reseach and to communicate with critique partners. There were benefits to doing that. I was able to write alot and revise alot. I didn't need a list because I was so fully engaged in what I was doing.

    Now I have an agent and my book is on submission and I'm doing some of the other things writers need to do that I ignored while I was in my cave. The last few months have been amazing. I really enjoy the community in the blogging world and other online networks. The learning curve(s)have been steep and time consuming. I'm still writing, but not as much. I might enjoy a list for my writing to help me put the distractions aside.

    Your reminder about not beating yourself up is a good one for me right now. Thanks. And thanks for being so welcoming to a new bloggers like myself.

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  17. This is so hard because, on one hand, we do need to treat it as a business endeavor in the sense that we have to push ourselves hard and practice every day. On the other hand, it's an art form, and I think that partially means it's good to be driven by emotions. I don't get too down on myself if I have a bad day of writing. But, I'd get pretty stressed out if I had two weeks of bad writing.

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  18. I make a check list, just not that detailed. I think this could work for me because I am a list maker. I'm going to try being more specific. Thanks for sharing.

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  19. I think that's a good plan for when you're writing full time, and when you're writing part time because then you're more focused. I don't do that. I probably should.

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  20. Cindy! The Saints? The Colts? Come on over to the Fins side. You'll be glad you did. In a couple of years, that is.:)

    The small victories add up to huge wins when we get that book finished. :)So they should definitely be celebrated.

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  21. Paul, I love your blog! And I learn something every time I visit. So THANK YOU!

    And while blogging and having that online presence is a must, DON'T LET IT INTERFERE with your writing. That is the MOST important thing I can say. And DON'T beat yourself in the head if you don't write that day. Or if you don't meet your goals. There is ALWAYS tomorrow. :)

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  22. Davin my friend, you could NEVER have two weeks of bad writing. It ain't gonna happen. But for me, positioning really works. And even helps my creativity blossom. :)

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  23. Susan, lists are so cool. I make them, but then I forget where I put them. :) I like positioning. It really helps me see where I need to be and how I need to get there. Plus, I really like knowing I will go back and fix a certain scene, because I won't forget. It's on my list. Which is right on one copy of my MS. :)

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  24. Patti, you could try it and see if it helps. Take small steps and see if it helps you get more out of your writing time. :)

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  25. Yes, we do have to keep in mind that writing is a business, but we can't lose focus on our creativity either. It's a tough balance.

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  26. I think Scott hit on something in his comment. I think no matter what stage we're at, we can approach writing with self-discipline. But perhaps it's wise to wait to see writing as a business until we've got some experience under our belts? Not sure. Just thinking outloud.

    I'm definitely looking at writing as my "job" these days. Before my contract, I would have to say, it was more of a moonlighting job. I did it on the "side" of my other work. It could get bumped if I needed to (which I didn't do often). But I don't have that luxury now. Even though I prepared myself by taking my writing seriously before and being self-disciplined, I've still had to switch gears even more!

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  27. Jennifer, I agree. Tough balance indeed. But if we prepare now, when we have deadlines, etc, we'll have more confidence in being able to meet those deadlines. :)

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  28. Jody, I think when I first started, I needed a more simple approach. But I've been writing for five years now, so it's time I think of it as a business. My business. :)

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  29. Now I was cheering for the Saints but guess I can still write on this great blog even though we may meet down the road...

    It is a business. Sigh. But I don't have to like reality, do i????
    Patti
    www.pattilacy.com/blog

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  30. Patti, of course, you are always welcome. Go Dolphins!!:)

    And I don't like the reality of the business side either. I would just love to create. And create. And create. :)

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  31. Being a writer requires so much self discipline. Some days I do better than others. Other days I get more laundry done. For me, it helps to see it as a business - it pushes me past the distractions. Most of the time:)

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  32. Karen, laundry, check! Dishes, check. Bathrooms, uh, NOT! :) I'd rather write. :) I need to see the business side too.

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  33. I really like the idea of positioning. I've never done this but it worth a try. Sometimes I feel like I have so much to do that I can't focus on any one thing so I never get anything done. I make lists at work (the office where I earn a paycheck) so why shouldn't I use the same concept with regard to my writing, promoting, blogging ,etc.

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  34. Amy, I love this idea. I'd never heard of it either until I read about this author. I'm makin' lists and checking then twice. :)

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  35. I read a comment on someone's blog (can't remember where) and the commenter said, "We should keep writing personal and keep publishing a business." So true! I think, if we can tease those two apart somehow, things become much clearer.

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  36. Great point. :) I like to think of my writing as a mix of work and play. It's like a job where you're allowed--nay, encouraged--to act like a big doof and show up to the office in your pajamas. I love that. It keeps me focused but still loose enough to be creative. :)

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  37. Amen! I even keep a log of my mileage, my receipts, and printer expenses as a tax write off. It IS a business.

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