Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Are You a Productive Writer?

Productivity is more than words written per hour. In reality, it is tied to your goals and dreams. For example, many years ago, I was working on a speech for an executive. I finished and it was accepted, but I'd found a whole world of possibilities in the last few pages. When I handed it in (early), I asked the exec if I could redo the whole thing with these new ideas in mind, and he said yes.

Naturally, this took time. And my direct boss was not happy that I was going back to work on a job that was "done" when I could be working on something else. (He always felt good enough was just fine.) I didn't let his reaction distract me. I dug in, wrote the new speech, and it was a hit at the conference. It went on to be published and widely distributed. I have a copy of a letter Michael Crichton sent my principal congratulating him. (The two ended up having a breakfast together. No, I wasn't invited.)

So, productivity is intimately tied to what you intend to achieve and where your dreams take you. I'm all for getting more words on paper per hour, and I do track that as part of my productivity measurements. But I also look to see if the work is getting sold and getting attention. I look at how happy I am with the final output and what I've learned along the way. I measure things that are in my reach, like works completed and submitted. And often I raise the bar on what I consider productive writing for me.

One thing I've begun doing is using the time I save on composition to explore new approaches to rewriting and refining the work. For any of these -- conflict analysis, discovery of theme, story logic -- I look for wasted time. (There's always some.) I tinker with the process it see how I can get it to be more efficient. But my primary goal is to improve the quality in the limited time I have to create manuscripts.

One more thing -- I pay close attention to my experience of writing. Any new technique or approach that, after experimentation, takes the joy out of writing is abandoned. I'm happy to sacrifice efficiency to keep things fun.


By the way, Lowcountry Romance Writers of America is once again hosting my popular online workshop, Bigger Stories. It provides personalized help in getting the most out of your premise, your plot, and the characters you've created. Any questions? Just ask.

Bigger Stories
Presented by Peter Andrews
Dates: May 5-30, 2014

Course Description:
Fire up your readers with twists, turns, shock, and awe. Learn how to demand more from your characters and to create endings that buzz. Don’t hold back. Find out how to take you stories from good to great.

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