Paula Gail BensonTwo years ago, I discovered “The Easy Way to Write” series by Rob Parnell, best-selling author, musician, screenwriter, and Australian entrepreneur. With over ninety books to his credit (many in eformat), he is an acknowledged writing guru whose motto is Your Success is My Concern.
What I like that his books are straightforward and give positive, achievable steps for becoming a working, successful author. I particularly enjoyed the opening chapter of The Easy Way to Write Short Stories that Sell, in which he gave some excellent advice for making the most of writing skills. Distilled to the essence, here are his recommendations.
First, approach the task as a business. Present yourself as a professional and act professionally and courteously in your dealings with agents and publishers.
Second, produce a clean, enticing product that meets and exceeds buyer expectations. The less an editor has to do to make a manuscript publishable, the more valuable it becomes because it costs less to produce.
Third, ensure a consistent output by developing manageable routines.
What exactly does manageable routines mean? Writing every day at a particular time and in a specific place? Meeting a daily word quota or number of pages revised?
Maybe. Or, maybe not.
Is writing one thousand words a day manageable for you? Or, are you struggling to produce a few hundred words each time you have a few free minutes between classes, or jobs, or things you need to do for your family and friends?
Remember how Curly (played by Jack Palance) explained the secret of life to Mitch (Billy Crystal) in the City Slickers (Columbia Pictures 1991)? “It’s one thing, and you have to figure out what it is.”
Manageable means one thing: what you can accomplish based on your own schedule, lifestyle, needs, and resources. You have to discover what a manageable routine is for you. And, the best test for figuring it out is determining what you can plan to do on a fairly regular basis with a sense of expectation and accomplishment.
Routine speaks of habit. I recently read an article that listed good habits to develop to help avoid some of the detriments of aging. Along with good nutrition and exercise, the article encouraged that people have a routine. It did not have to be complex, but one you enjoyed returning to consistently. Like doing cross word puzzles, practicing a musical instrument, or writing in a journal.
A manageable routine is a schedule you can look forward to keeping for the joy of finishing the tasks you set for yourself, and not so rigorous that it's daunting. In the opening chapter of The Easy Way to Write Short Stories that Sell, Parnell suggests that one way to develop the ability to finish a story is to start thinking of how the story ends. He suggests you write a dozen short paragraph stories that have a beginning, middle, and end. Then, write “The End.” Make it a practice to reach the place where you write “The End” and make that act a part of your storytelling. After you have a dozen examples, no matter how short, the act of writing “The End” becomes part of your work product. You have learned to persevere to reach the conclusion.
He advocates setting achievable goals, visualizing success, and writing a mission statement to better understand your brand and the product you are producing. Last year, I wrote a post giving more detail about his methods that you may find here. But, the more I think about it, the key is developing manageable routines.
So, to make certain that you have a business approach, good product presentation, and consistent output, find the writing habits that fit best into your life and make you want to embrace your writing time each day as a haven and comfort rather than a dreaded ordeal. I hope each of you finds this advice practical, achievable, and encouraging, and that it assists you in becoming the writer you want to be this year.
©2015 Paula Gail Benson
A legislative attorney and former law librarian, Paula Gail Benson’s short stories have been published in Kings River Life (http://kingsriverlife.com/), the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable (http://bwgwritersroundtable.com/), Mystery Times Ten 2013 (Buddhapuss Ink), and A Tall Ship, a Star, and Plunder (Dark Oak Press and Media, 2014). She regularly blogs with others at http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com. Her personal blog is Little Sources of Joy, at http://littlesourcesofjoy.blogspot.com, and her website is http://paulagailbenson.com.
Thanks, Paula! Nice piece. I'm sure our readers will take away a lot of great information. Buddhapuss Ink LLC is proud to be a small, but solid house known for great fiction and nonfiction books, written for readers with brains by authors who have more than just one book in them.
READERS: We hope you enjoyed this week's edition of our #WW Writer Wednesday Series and that we'll see you again next week when our guest poster, Linda Sienkiewicz, writes about Getting Intimate with Point of View. Till then, "Butt in chair, WRITE!
~ The Black Cat