What do successful prolific writers look like? Do they spend countless hours at their desks, laboring over their work? Do they do nothing else with their lives but write? They would have to, wouldn’t they? No, not necessarily. The Key: Successful prolific writers utilize their time and creative energy to their fullest potential. Consider the following strategies in order to become a prolific writer.
Create a weekly writing schedule and keep it religiously. For the new writer it might be a block of time on the weekend while maintaining a full-time job during the week. For the part-time writer it might be two or three hours per day. For the full-time writer six to eight hours a day. Whatever amount of time is set aside, two things are required for success: no distractions and stick-to-it-ive-ness. Always write during your scheduled writing time.
Use the allotted writing time wisely, but also use non-writing time well for think time. For example, at dinner discuss with family members the characters you are writing about. While washing dishes envision a conflict you want to develop in the story. During an evening walk plan the description of the community where your characters live. Plan ahead what you are going to write. Then during your scheduled writing time, the think time turns an empty computer screen into a viable working draft. It helps you avoid writer’s block.
List of Ideas
Keep an ongoing list of ideas that strike you as possible writing topics. Carry a small notebook with you at all times; put it on your nightstand at night. You never know when an idea will strike. Write down anything that seems interesting whether it fits the manuscript you are currently working on or not. Many writers record in their notebooks not only topics but lines for poems, dialogue for characters, setting descriptions, etc. You may even want to give your notebook a title. Robert Frost called his notebook “Wood Notes.”
Works in Progress
Work on more than one manuscript at a time. Why? All drafts need a rest time–a period of time when the writer does not look at the draft before editing the final draft. Set aside a draft for a day or two for short pieces, a week for longer manuscripts, a month or two for books. Several works in process can also avoid wasted time. If one story or poem isn’t working for you, switch to another manuscript that is.
Every writer has deadlines whether imposed by an editor or self-determined. So, set strict deadlines that can be realistically met. No lame excuses. Writing is your occupation. Fulfill your obligations. Getting the first draft completed is the largest hurdle. So, don’t procrastinate. Be a professional. Meet your deadlines.
Revise and Edit
First drafts are not finished pieces of work. Several drafts of revising and editing must occur in order to achieve an excellent piece of work. How? Become part of a writer’s group. Graciously receive their honest, constructive input. Cut repetition and wordiness. Make your word choice precise. Show don’t tell. Avoid passive voice. Use correct punctuation and grammar structures.
Find suitable publications for your work. When you find a literary journal or magazine that you like, study the stories and poems previously accepted by the editors. Follow submission guidelines meticulously. If your work is rejected, find another market and send it out again. A rejection letter doesn’t mean that your work isn’t any good.
Finally, turn off the television, cell phone, and radio. Spend less time on emails, Facebook, and pass-a-longs. Quit surfing the Internet. Instead open a new Word file and write. Or grab a favorite pen and tablet and write. Write as much and as often as your schedule permits because becoming a successful prolific writer means you need to utilize your time and creative energy to your fullest potential.
Author’s Bio.: Linda Frances Lein is a writing instructor at Minnesota State University Moorhead. She has published four books: Mother to Mother: Letters about Being a Mom (1999), Country Reflections (2000), Hannah Kempfer: An Immigrant Girl (2002), and The Making of a Small Town: Carlisle, Minnesota (2008). From 1999-2003 she wrote a bimonthly column called “A Day in the Life of a Farm Wife” for AGRI-GUIDE. The stories were set on the Lein Farm and surrounding rural community where she lives. Linda is primarily a creative nonfiction writer, but she has had poems published in The Rambler and Red Weather as well, and she is currently working on two novels.