Thursday, March 13, 2014

Planning Is Not A Dirty Word by Susan Sleeman

Susan Sleeman
Dora here. Today, Susan Sleeman offers five principles to make your writing time more productive. Enjoy, and keep writing! ~Dora

I’m one of those organized people who plan ahead. If you’re not a planner don’t stone me. Just hear me out as I believe even a little bit of planning and goal setting will increase your productivity. Honest! Published or not if you apply these five easy principles, I’m sure you’ll be more productive.

1. See yourself as a professional writer
Attitude is critical for success in this business. If you believe you’re a writer, you’ll do the things necessary to become a published writer. Set up a dedicated writing space. Even if it’s an orange crate and a chair. Then write, write, write. Whether you feel like it or not. Whether you’re turning out award winning prose or garbage. Write. Why? You’ve heard the old saying practice makes perfect. I don’t know about perfect, but writing on a regular basis grows your skills.

2. Set a Goal and stick to it
Decide which days of the week you’re going to write and set word goals. To keep up my publishing pace, I must write at least 2500 words 5 days a week. Do I always want to write 2500 words? “No,” I scream loudly. But by setting a word goal, it allows me to see at a glance when a rough draft will be finished and contract other books accordingly. Plus it keeps me on target. If I fail to hit 2500 words one day, I know I have to make it up the next day.

3. Don’t let distractions get in the way during your writing time
Easier said than done right? Especially when there’s email and social media at our fingertips. So how do you avoid spending too much time on them? I allot myself the first hour of the day as I am coming awake with my coffee to read email, Facebook, Twitter, etc and again as I eat lunch. When time’s up, I have a calendar program that reminds me to get to work. A good computer calendar program to give you reminders is invaluable in so many areas of a writing career. And you don’t have to spend any money on one. I use Mozilla Sunbird, which is a FREE program. I put deadlines and other events on the calendar and set appropriate reminders. For example, if I have a blog post or interview due, I set the due date and the calendar tells me when I should be working on it. Until then, I can put it out of my mind and concentrate on writing.

4. Set a book deadline whether the book you are working on is contracted or not
Any published author will tell you that a deadline will make you do super human things to complete a book on time. But you don’t have to have a contracted novel to do the same thing. Give yourself a deadline. Treat it as if an editor is waiting for your manuscript and stick to it. After all, once you do get that contract, you’ll have to work under deadlines. Learn to do so now when the pressure isn’t as strong.

5. Plan out your novels – okay I know this is going to start a seat-of-the-pants writer versus plotter argument, but read on anyway
When I first started writing, I didn’t plan a word. I didn’t even know where the book was going or how it was going to end. When I was able to contract with a publisher on proposal only—the first three chapters and a synopsis, I had to learn to plan my books in advance. And that’s what I did. I took the high concept, figured out character conflicts and the main story conflict as I had always done then expanded it to create a list of scenes that fit the book. Learning how to go from pantser to plotter would take a whole series of blog posts, but I bring it up for two reasons. 1. If you want to stay on the schedule you set, I believe you have to know where you’re going. If not, you’ll write, rewrite, and cut many words that will then put you behind schedule. 2. If you can’t plan ahead, you will never be able to sell on proposal and that means writing entire books that may or may not sell.

Well, there you have it. My five tips to being more productive as a writer. So what do you think? Can any of these tips help you get more words on paper?

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Gina Evans knows her brother was murdered—even if the police won't believe her. After catching a quick glimpse of the evidence her brother had gathered, the same criminals are after her and her baby niece. And Gina's only hope is the man she left behind. Despite the painful memories, private investigator Derrick Justice won't fail Gina and her baby. Yet now, the woman he never stopped loving and the baby he's come to adore are in a killer's crosshairs. But can Derrick trap the cold-blooded murderer before he strikes again?

SUSAN SLEEMAN is a bestselling author of inspirational and clean read romantic suspense books. Her first book, High-Stakes Inheritance was an ECPA bestseller. The Christmas Witness was nominated for the Daphne du Maurier Award and Thread of Suspicion for Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award. Susan lives in Oregon with her realtor husband. They have two daughters, a son-in-law, and an adorable grandson.