Recently, this article was sent to me. While I applied it to the person and the situation at the time, I began to wonder, how can I apply a 30% increase to my writing career? More importantly, how can I make these criterion a viable "bucket" list for my future projects and endeavors?
It's important, however, to understand that being a writer is unlike many careers. The reality is that most writers rarely see monetary benefit to what they produce. All aspiring writers dream of being self-sustaining in their chosen genre. Yet, most writers have another means of keeping their bank accounts in the black.
Writers also write whenever writing is possible. It isn't money that needs to be increased (although it's a nice idea). As this linked article aptly points out, the commodity to be considered is time.
So, the real question to ask is how can I apply a 30% increase of writing time to my "bucket" list and improve my ability to complete my future projects and endeavors?
Modeling my goals to follow the outline of the article, these were the conclusions I came to based on my own "buckets."
The "Having" Bucket The article points out that this bucket contains the skills and experiences a job candidate already possesses that match the job description. The adage "write what you know" falls into this bucket. Some possible questions to ask might be
What interest or expertise do I have that has prepared me to write about this theme/topic?
Which genre(s) do I resonate with the most or feel I write best?
How does my current employment assist me in obtaining knowledge for my work-in-progress?
How did my education prepare me for this potential dream-come-true?
I know someone out there is saying, But, I'm a stay-at-home parent. What possible interests or expertise do I have? Maybe that someone is me. I'm a veteran stay-at-home parent of twenty-plus years, and that number will keep climbing because I consider myself a forever-parent. Which is a topic for another post. But, let me assure anyone out there who has the same question I do that being a stay-at-home parent is an expertise you will cherish and want to share with others based on your own personal experience. So, while the babies are napping and the soup is simmering, pull up a kitchen chair and start brainstorming about this "Having" Bucket.
The "Getting" Bucket The last line of this paragraph is critical: "I don't want to waste anyone's time." Exactly! Writers who value their audience do not want to waste their readers' efforts in reading their books. Writers also don't want to waste their own time by writing something no one wants to read. As writers it's important to consider the following before starting a project:
Research: What do I need to learn more about or experience first-hand in order to write about this theme/topic?
Readers: Who is my audience? How do I keep my readers engaged in this book until the end? How do I gain more readership?
Revision: How do I ensure a quality revision and final version of my book?
Resources: Who are my resources (beta-readers, editors, proofreaders, lay-out designers, cover designers, publishing options, marketing strategies etc.)? How can accessing their expertise provide me with more time to write about mine?
Respect: How do I balance my writing time with other life priorities? How do I further earn the respect of my readers and resources?
One of my greatest "Getting" Bucket items is being part of book clubs. For over fifteen years, I have been part of two or three book clubs at a time. One was affiliated with a church I attended and had a two-read protocol before we selected a title to share with the group. Another, which I still participate in, focuses on award-winning, literary titles and classics. Our goal is to not read the book beforehand. Another book club has only two members--my mom and me. I find that being in book clubs fulfills the criterion on the five R's listed above.
Another invaluable resource has been online writing groups. There are several groups on Facebook with specific rules of engagement. I would highly recommend Authors' Tale (fiction) and its companion group Allegory Alley (poetry). I am also part of The Writer Collective, a group that mainly focuses on fantasy and science fiction. These are two genres I rarely read and hardly ever write, which is why I wanted to learn more about them through group interaction.
The "Doing" Bucket Action applied to time is contained in this "bucket." The following list are items I ought to consider as I structure my writing moments.
Stretch=Daily Schedule When will I write on a daily basis?
Growth=Reading When will I work in reading within my schedule? What books within my genre and my craft will help my writing life grow as a writer?
Satisfaction=Word Counts How many quality words do I need to write per day in order to meet my deadline?
Impact=Sharing When and what do I share with my readers and writing groups to keep them reading and to motivate me to continue writing?
Even as I ask these questions, I need to ask myself a more important question: As a writer, am I a planner or a "pantser"? While the meaning of the word planner is probably obvious, the word pantser is most likely not. Writers of this nature tend to write when inspired and with a general idea without a specific result. In other words, they write "by the seat of their pants."
For me, much depends on the genre of my current project. I am more of a pantser when I write poetry. I may have a general idea of the book's theme and what each poem should express, but I allow for the words to flow at will. When I am writing fiction and nonfiction, I tend to work from a structured outline. Yet, there are always times when I find myself deviating from what I originally intended. All of this to say, every writer needs to know what initial process works best in order to allow for full creativity to manifest the desired result.
The "Becoming" Bucket This "bucket" is my long-term planning and personal purpose philosophy. I may ask myself
Why is my writing important to me and to others?
What kind of writer am I?
Who do I need to involve in my writing process?
How will I get my writing in the hands of my target audience?
When would I like to have my writing in print?
Where would I like to see my writing distributed?
There are many questions such as these. Many depend on deadlines. Some of those deadlines are personal, and some are professional. Not all writers enjoy developing goals because the word itself implies routine and structure. Within the Myers-Briggs personality typology, my fellow J-types tend to embrace lists and guidelines as I have outlined here. But, P-types probably cringe and most likely stop reading after the first paragraph. (If you didn't, beloved Perceivers, I applaud you for your persistence.) I am developing a follow-up post that will appear soon after this one is published. It will address how to simplify what may appear too rigid and overwhelming to those who prefer fluidity and spontaneity.
Now that I have taken the time to mentally align all my "buckets," I have to get busy doing the one thing that will help me become a better writer than I was before I started this post. Write!