Welcome to our bi-weekly posts from guest columnist, Bobbye Terry. I so appreciate hearing about the life of a working and experienced writer from the trenches. After you read Bobbye’s post, we’re curious to know: What is your secret to being prolific? Share your thoughts with us! Thanks!
Hello, wonderful readers. It’s my turn once again to speak about what’s on my mind about the writing craft and the secret to productivity. To me, being prolific is like a runaway train that still knows where the station is. It may be going at breakneck speed but it’s on a set of rails and it knows where to stop. I’ve discussed the topic extensively with my characters and they have gratefully allowed me to share our secrets with you. To help us, I’ve used a few quotes from notable people. To me, and the characters who share my brain, being prolific is a combination of the following things:
Having a vision
I will be brief here because this will be one of my future topics which I’ll explore more deeply at that time. For now, let me say that your vision should be easily expressed in simple terms and in as few words as possible. It has to be something you can keep in the forefront of your mind as you work every day.
Here is an example of one of the most famous vision statements of our time from John F. Kennedy: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon, and returning him safely to earth.”
As you can see, it’s short, specific and crystallizes a desired future state. It was also realistically obtainable.
I like to think of goals as baby steps toward the vision. Napoleon Hill said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” So, first think of a goal as something you desire to attain. Setting a goal because it was arbitrarily set by someone else isn’t a goal—that is a deadline. Your goal is something you strive to reach because you wish it to occur. You need to quantify that desired outcome by setting time parameters for accomplishing it. They have to be realistic and attainable. It will require using all your resources as outlined in the remainder of this article.
I have always been known for having extra doses of energy. When I was younger, I practically ran everywhere I went on foot. Now my movements have slowed, but my brain is on 24/7. Even when I’m asleep my brain is processing plot ideas. In fact most of my best ideas occur while I’m sleeping. Ben Stiller was quoted as saying, “I have a lot of nervous energy. Work is my best way of channeling that into something productive unless I want to wind up assaulting the postman or gardener.” Likewise, I work long hours at my computer to still the racing muse. How do you get an abundance of energy? By staying on track with your passion and never letting up as you set out to achieve what you have planned.
Nothing can derail your plans like poor health. Remember that all work and no play… well, you know the rest. Make sure you take out some time for you, and during that time out, tend to keeping a daily routine, eating well-balanced meals, exercising (okay, I could use more of that!), taking all medications as prescribed (if any). Make sure you also take time out to read other works of fiction. You need to stay on top of what’s being published and what readers enjoy.
Being Committed and Staying Focused
When you set your goals, you have to be committed to follow them through to completion. That means don’t stop in the middle of a novel and go on to another project leaving the first unfinished and unloved. Once you’ve been working a few years, you may find you can stop one project to attend to one that needs to get out the door faster, But if you’re committed and focused, you will come back at that point and complete the other book. For newbies, no shortcuts. Also, word of warning: learn how to write one genre before you genre hop. An established author can move into more genres, but he or she has earned that right. Earn your stripes first.
In the end, I think it all comes down to determination and tenacity. If you are like a bulldog with a bone, you’re more likely to make it to the promise land. As Thomas Huxley said, “Patience and tenacity are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness.”
Bobbye Terry is the multi-published writer of romantic comedy, suspense and fantasy. She also writes under the pseudonyms Daryn Cross and Terry Campbell and has books out or slated for publication through Black Opal Books, Crescent Moon Press, Eternal Press, L&L Dreamspell and Turquoise Morning Press. Her first mystery novella, Buried in Briny Bay, debuts on March 14. She will release her first digital indie publication, Millicent, on March 25. For more information, check out her online headquarters: http://BobbyeTerry.Blogspot.com.