Saturday, 22 June 2013

On maintaining discipline

One year ago, on June 20th to be precise, I took the decision to take my potential career by the horns and pull my writing finger out and use it for what it's for - writing.

From the age of 18 to the age of 33 (as I was then) I had written eight manuscripts, about 80 short stories, and dozens of half-finished novels in a variety of genres. Some of the canned pieces were 100,000 words in length.

When I started self-publishing in January 2012 I immediately saw it as a potential career, providing I took it seriously and did what needed to be done to make my dream a reality.

18 months down the line I'm still not a professional writer but I sell almost every day and have made 100 plus sales a month for six months in a row, a far cry from the 20 sales (if I was lucky) I was making per month this time last year.

Part of that was due to understanding that I needed to increase my output. You can't sell books that you haven't written.

So I pulled my finger out. I deleted the internet connection from the computer I was using to write on, and set up a spreadsheet to keep a tab of my progress.

The result -

370,150 new words, at an average of 1014 per day, or 1234 pages (what a lovely number) in twelve months. At 80,000 words for an average thriller novel that's the equivalent of four and a half novels, or more than one every quarter.

Most traditionally published novelists put out a book every year or so. In the ebook world you are quickly forgotten if you don't keep up the production schedule and continue to build and grow your audience. As a good writing friend of mine says, you're either shrinking or growing.

Just to put things in perspective, I'm not a full time writer. I have a day job, and I also work part time. Some days I leave the house at 7.30 a.m. and get home at 10 p.m. I'm also married, play in a rock band and take part in various community events. I'm not exactly overburdened with free time.

Yet I still managed to write more than four novels in a year. How?


I don't watch TV. TV is rot for the soul. I hate it and the fact that it exists purely to fill bored, tired minds with junk between work and sleep. So that was easy to give up.

The other thing I cut back on was my social life. I still go out on occasion, but I used to go out every weekend. The fact was, that time I was sitting in a pub shooting the shit was time I could spend writing. I also cut back on a lot of hobbies. I used to do loads of stuff - climbing mountains, snowboarding, playing cricket. I still do some (because what is writing without life?) but I cut back so I could spend more time on something that I hope will be my career. In ideal circumstances, in a couple of years I'll be able to quit my day job and take up all my hobbies again. That would certainly be worth the sacrifice.

So, in short, what I'm trying to say with this, is that if you have genuine aspirations to be a writer, then you have to get disciplined. Stop expecting to sell tons and tons within a few days of release. It DOES happen, but it HARDLY EVER happens. Ideally, don't expect to sell a single copy for the first three years, then bust your gut getting as many high quality books out as possible. In the long run it'll be worth it.

That's all for now. More instructional stuff coming soon!

Chris Ward
June 22nd 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment