of a moderately prolific writer
By Ann Lethbridge
I hear a lot of authors say they are slow writers. I don’t see anything wrong with that at all. Some of the best writers describe themselves this way. Your process is your process. These tips and tricks are merely ideas I have honed for myself, which I am sharing with you to do with as you will.
First I want you to understand that I am a full-time writer. Last year I completed three full length novels for Harlequin, did revisions for same, and also wrote two short stories and one novella. Because I just landed an eight book contract with Harlequin, four full length and four short stories, I had to sit down and really think about my process and what I wanted to accomplish. I had three questions in mind. Did I want to write fast? And how fast? And when did I want to take vacations? I plan to have this contract completed by June 2011.
My tips and tricks.
1. Know how much you write consistently. I use an excel spreadsheet to track.
2. For a period of two weeks record your daily and weekly word counts. Find out the average per day, then use that as your daily word count.
3. Write to that word count every day, no matter how long it takes. Make writing as much part of your day as cleaning your teeth.
4. Once it feels comfortable, usually after three weeks, increase it by 200 words.
5. Give it another three weeks and increase it another 200 words and so on.
6. Don’t go beyond what is comfortable. If you have a bad day, don’t sweat, add the lost words to the next few days of writing or write on a weekend, or at sometime when you don’t usually write. EG this week my daughter wanted me to meet her for lunch, so Friday was a lost day. I don’t write on weekends but this weekend I wrote my missing words spread over Saturday and Sunday.
7. Once you know how many words you can do a day, calculate your deadline to finish the book and meet it. The calculation is length of finished book in words, divided by number of words per day, divided by number of days in week. I use five, because I usually don’t write on my weekends.
8. If you have a deadline from your publisher, use that to calculate how many words you need to write every day. In my case my publisher asked me to indicate the dates on which I would deliver the books. I work with 2,000 words per day. Don’t leave it and do it in a rush at the end. For me this ends up taking longer.
9. Sneaky trick. Take a notebook with you and write scenes in the doctor’s office or any other time you are waiting. Or find an hour you can carve out of the evening or the early morning. These extra times will up your weekly word count. Make them "extras". If you can beat your deadline, you can increase your output, without feeling the pressure. You can even use these times to write a different book altogether (which is what I did for the short story in the Mammoth book of Regencies pictured to the left)
10. Add editing/polishing time to your schedule. Four weeks for me, because I don’t plot.
11. If you are published, set other milestones in the schedule, date synopsis and three chapters are due. Deadlines you agreed with your editor. The date you should be at the midpoint of the story is another one. You can then see if you are on track before it becomes a problem
12. Add in any time needed for editor’s revisions for a previous book or for copy edits.
13. Add in time needed to promote previous books (this might reduce the daily word count).
14. Establish a send-it-out date and send it out on that date. No quarter given, even if it is only you sending it out as a query. Then start the next book.
Good luck and happy writing.
Ann Lethbridge has two books coming out with Harlequin in 2010, Wicked Rake, Defiant Mistress, both covers pictured here. It comes out in February in the UK and in May in North America. The second book, Captured for the Captain's Pleasure, will be in stores in June 2010. No cover as yet. There will be three Harlequin Undone's coming out during the year also.
Writing as Michele Ann Young, she has a short story called Remember in the Mammoth Book of Regencies due out in the summer, and a novella in a Mills and Boon Anthology which will be available in the UK sometime in 2010.