The Business of Writing by Eric Keizer
You’ve really gone ahead and done it now. You’ve started your novel in earnest. You’ve gone through the dreaming and fantasizing phases and are making your dream a reality. Before you sit down and start typing away, please understand that if you’re looking to translate your ideas into a successful enterprise, you need to look at yourself like you’re a business.
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Just as any “9 to 5” job has clearly defined expectations for your performance, you need to establish rules for yourself. Do you need a dedicated time slot to produce your most effective writing? Schedule it. Do you need a special seat/desk/computer monitor/ specialized keyboard? Purchase it. Give yourself every opportunity to create a comfortable and distraction free zone- much like an office or cubicle. Pay attention to your lighting needs. Maybe you enjoy soft, diffused light rather than harsh, bright light. Maybe you need bright lights to see your screen better. Whatever choices you make, be prepared to give yourself the possible space to foster your creativity.
Art and music are proven catalysts for creativity. Perhaps some favorite photos on your wall or desk will help you relax or inspire you. Research has proven that any musical genre, softly playing in the background, helps students learn and retain information more readily. The results of this research were extrapolated to include adult students. Music also helps to incubate artistry on a subconscious level. Have you ever wondered why some offices play soft music (“elevator music”) over speakers across the entire office? The studies proved the benefits of music with regards to productivity and increased quality of work produced.
Pay yourself. Reward yourself for doing a great job when you’re particularly productive. Look at it as though you’ve earned a monetary bonus from a “9 to 5” job. Of course, you’re not going to hand yourself an envelope full of cash, but maybe you can treat yourself to a nice meal, a spa treatment, or even an expensive cigar. The small rewards you give yourself will help motivate you to stay focused and reinforce your discipline. Conversely, don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day (or two), and can’t manage to jot down one single word. Just as in the corporate world, where time is allotted for task completion, so too should you allow yourself to have a flexible deadline schedule. Just make sure you don’t procrastinate to the point where you find that you haven’t written anything for weeks.
Pay yourself first. No, this isn’t a repeat of the first sentence of the previous paragraph- I truly mean “pay yourself first”. This means that you must take care to put your interests first when it comes to writing. Sure, it feels good to be a member of multiple “writer” pages on Facebook. Yes, it’s great to get involved in different communities that help newer writers develop their craft. The key to participating in these groups is to limit yourself to a designated amount of time- and not one minute more. Most groups require some level of participation, and that is perfectly fine, but just as in a corporate setting, where endless committees will distract you from completing your job tasks, too much involvement in discussion groups will steal time away from what you have designated as essential to your success.
Plan your strategy, protect your interests, and watch the dividends come rolling in; you’re worth it!