Five Easy Steps to Becoming a More Successful (and Prolific) Writer
by Abigail Drake
I was given a lovely opportunity to get some tips from author Abigail Drake who is about to publish her eleventh (yes eleventh!) book, Love, Chocolate and a Dog named Al Capone. She also has the cutest and possibly most famous dog in Beaver, Pennsylvania, so I had to know more!
“How do you write so quickly?”
I get asked this question all the time. The truth is, writers each have their own speed. Some are able to get things on the page at a rapid pace, others prefer to take their time. But often writers feel frustrated by their own inability to produce, and there is nothing sadder than hearing about someone who has been working on the same book for years, if not decades.
There is no hard and fast rule about how long it should take to get a book from first draft to completion. It very much depends on the length of the book, the genre, and the amount of research required. But if you’re putting out less than a book a year, you may be doing something wrong.
Here are some basic rules to help:
- Make writing a priority. Yes, this can be difficult, but it’s important. Often, we get so bogged down by our task lists, we feel overwhelmed. It seems selfish, in a way, to write when we have so many other things we have to get done. Stop thinking that way. Don’t feel guilty about taking the time to write. You are worth it. Your book is worth it. The laundry can wait. It’ll still be there when you’re done. I promise.
- Write every single day. Make writing a part of your schedule and stick to that schedule. Don’t deviate. Don’t make excuses. I’m lucky enough to be able to write full time, but even if you don’t have this luxury, you can still fit writing into your schedule. Start slow. Aim for an hour and plant your booty in the chair. Don’t get up until that hour is over (well, unless your house is on fire or someone is bleeding and requires medical attention). Otherwise, force yourself to sit and write.
- Set daily goals. For some people, the goal might be a word count. For me, it’s a scene or a chapter. My most productive writing time is in the morning, so that’s when I sit down and put my scene on paper. Actually, first I make lots and lots of coffee, then I walk the dog. He’s a black Lab named Capone, and he has more fans on Facebook than me, but that’s beside the point. As I’m walking Capone, I map out in my head the scene I plan to write that day. When I get home, I sit down and write it. Once that’s done, anything else I write is a bonus, since I’ve already reached my goal for the day.
- Write Forward. This was an extremely valuable concept I learned during my first creative writing class. Truth be told it kind of rocked my world, but it’s very simple. When you write, don’t get stuck on the first chapter or page or paragraph. Put it on paper and keep writing until the book is done. Easy, peasy. Don’t look back. Don’t overanalyze. The only exception to this? To keep flow or help overcome roadblocks, sometimes you may want to read the last chapter or page you wrote the day before in order to get back into the rhythm or mindset of what you were writing. This doesn’t mean rewriting that chapter or doing anything editorial. Editing is for the second draft. The first draft is supposed to be ugly. Accept the ugliness. Embrace the ugliness. You can make it pretty later.
- Turn off the voice of your inner critic. There is no such thing as perfection, especially when it comes to writing a novel. You can approach each story a million different ways. There is not one right way to do it, so you just have to find your way. Don’t nitpick. Make it as good as you possibly can, without getting obsessive about it, and then let it go. It doesn’t matter how much you edit it. There will always be that one little sneaky thing that slips by. Stop worrying. It’s okay. Finish it and move on. It never truly feels ready, but it is ready, and you must know when to send it on its merry way.
Every book you write is different, and will require a different approach, but If you do these five things, you will get more done. My eleventh book, “Love, Chocolate, and a Dog Named Al Capone” will be out October 15, 2019, so I practice what I preach.
Last thing – don’t measure your success by comparing it to someone else’s. Even if you’re writing in the same genre, you’re comparing apples to oranges. Instead, celebrate each of your accomplishments, and be proud of how far you’ve come. And always remember, it’s not about where you are, it’s about where you’re going. Hopefully these hints will help you get there.
Abigail’s latest book, “Love, Chocolate, and a Dog Named Al Capone” is available on Amazon.
If you loved Marley and Me and Lily and The Octopus, you’ll adore Love, Chocolate, and a Dog Named Al Capone.
To learn more about Abigail, visit her website: https://www.abigaildrake.com
Or find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abigaildrakewriter/
Or find her dog on Facebook He’s the most famous Labrador retriever in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. He’s kind of a big deal, and it’s going to his head: https://www.facebook.com/caponethewonderdog/