Thursday, December 26, 2019

Looking Back at 2019

Looking ahead at 2020, there are things that worked well and things that didn’t. Some of the things that worked well in 2019 are producing quickly and building audio books. That constant stream of content allowed me to leverage more promotions. This combination led to my highest Amazon author rank ever. I sold a lot of audio books and my email list has grown 4.8% every month.

Another thing that worked out well for me is setting a bar on writing profits. Anything above $350/month goes towards retirement/saving funds. That allows me to see the profit grow in a different way. I also like the idea that my work and effort doesn’t fade but continues to grow year after year. That’s the “long tail” of “long tail writing”: building once and seeing slow growth.

However, a few things didn’t work out so well. I started a goal of writing every week day, but that evaporated. I had to scale that back to a weekly goal and had trouble with that. I determine that the main issue is that I was being a bit too much of a “pantser” and not planning. That led to me not wanting to write, but instead focus too much on promotions. At this point, I know how I want to do promotions. That will change in the future, but I feel like I have a good sense on that.  This lack of productivity did result in a NaNoWriMo fail.

The goal is, and always has been, to be my own favorite writer. I’ve done decent with that so far, but I need to delve deeper into that. I can’t just be producing content to fit a goal. I need to have fun while writing. I think if I can make the writing more fun and easier, I’ll produce more content. 


What worked
  • Writing a lot
  • Building audio books
  • Building a mailing list

What didn’t work
  • Not enough plotting
  • Better writing ethic
  • Making writing more fun

Ultimately, what 2020 needs to be is to simply do more of what I am doing now. I think I am on the right trajectory, I just need to tweak a few parts that are not working.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Never Be 100% Pantser or a 100% Planner

I don’t think being 100% “pantser” is an effective way to write fiction. This method is where you have no plan and just start writing. I also believe that being a 100% planner ultimately results in analysis paralysis. (That’s where nothing gets done because you are planning too much.) Most writers I think fall into the middle, and here are 5 reasons why a bit of planning is a good thing.

Connection of points previously not thought about

When you plan you get to see the plot from a different perspective. That higher perspective can reveal recurring themes and conflicts in your work. That can help you play towards those themes, giving you book a much better impact overall.

Allows you to recognize junk to cut

Much like point one, knowing a high-level perspective can help you identify which components don’t fit. That can allow you to cut out junk the reader doesn’t need. Ultimately, the best stories are ones that are told in as few words as possible. This means that each chunk is relevant to the story, and that there is no wasted material.

Makes writing easier

Writing every day is a common desire for many writers. The biggest hurdle in this effort is not the 100th word, but the first. Just like jumping into cold water, the hardest part is that initial leap, that initial first sentence. If you have a focus or outline you can use, this makes things easier.

Allows you to “eat an elephant”

Planning a bit can also take a massive project and make it more obtainable. Few people could sit down and write an entire novel in one session. However, many people are able to take a few months and part out the topics to write. That makes it easier to complete a difficult task.

Can support being a “pantser”

This last point is the most interesting to me. Planning can help being a pantser. Knowing where to go can give you characters a default that they can ignore later. Furthermore, you can plan out systems so that no matter which choice your characters make, their journeys will increase in potency. One of the “tricks” in the Lazy Dungeon Masters Guide (which tells you how to prepare Dungeons and Dragons games with the least amount of time) is to build a list of 10 secrets. These secrets may or may not be used in every session.

I think there are a number more areas that planning can help, but this minor list should help emphasize the importance of planning. We all want a product that has as few problems as possible. These can include plot holes, incorrect pacing, grammar and more. The ultimate goal is to produce an 80% quality product as fast as possible. Why not a 99% quality product? The answer is simple: diminishing returns. To get from 20% to 50% quality could simply be fixing a major plot hole and some minor grammar mistakes. However, getting from 80% - 85% quality could mean re-writing two or three chapters to make a side character emphasize a main character’s journey. That time could be better spent writing a sequel to the endeavor with that side character in the sequel.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Combining Ideas with Plans for 2020

Lately I’ve found myself struggling to continue towards a daily writing habit. There are so many things to distract me and I am not just talking about social media. Instead there are many writer activities that can distract me from writing. For example, plotting for new worlds, trying to determine how a mechanic would work, or even working through promotions.

As I look to the new year, a few things will need to be sorted out. Here is a brief list of each and what they may mean.

  • Daily Writing Habit
  • Writing Vacation Days
  • World Burner
  • New Years Resolutions

For the daily writing habit, what needs to be sorted out are the prompts. I need to build a system that helps me feel excited and ready to write for the next day. I think that part of that needs to be building daily writing prompts for myself. For example, if I end the day writing about a fight, I need to write a prompt that talks about ramifications of that fight. The idea being that I can dive quickly into writing that bit.

Wiring vacation days is a unique idea that has really sparked my imagination. The idea is to work 4x10’s during my day job one week per month. That way, I have a day off and will use that day to do nothing but writing. The hope is to burn through 10k work of writing quickly and really enjoy the process. At the moment I am thinking about building a LitRPG story, so that day would have me actually playing the game and writing about the results.

World Burner is a World Anvil contest to put down 10k of words into a world. I think this would be a wonderful way to start a LitRPG story, so I am digging into that. It’s not as intimidating as NaNoWriMo’s 50k, I can say that for certain.

New Years Resolutions – So for this one there are a couple things to think about. I haven’t committed to anything yet, but I would like to investigate a few things. First off, when I combine speech to text, then correct that speech, I can hit about 35 wpm. My normal speed is 20 wpm. (I can actually type around 60-70 wpm, but my brain simply can’t work as fast as my hands can) The other thing I am thinking for a New Years Resolutions is to build two new streams of income from my writing. Specifically, one based on written word, the other on printed word. The idea is to have my author earnings increase every year as I continue this adventure. I am hoping to build some diversity into my earnings so that if one area dries up, I still have a few other areas. I need to be continuously looking to build a bigger platform.


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