Amanda Cabot, author of more than 25 novels, knows more than a thing or two about "Getting to The End." Her journey to publication took several unexpected turns. She planned for writing to be a second profession and majored in French in college. After graduation, Amanda's temporary computer programming job became a successful career in Information Technology. But readers are thankful she left I.T. to write full-time. Her latest release, Paper Roses, a historical romance with a strong suspense thread, is a page-turning pre-Civil War story set in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. During a recent trip to San Antonio, Amanda shared her writing strategies with the Alamo City Christian Fiction Writers.
The Key to Success: Writing MUST be your #1 priority.
Amanda believes understanding is the first step toward mastery. Before understanding complicated characters charts or the complexities of the publishing industry, as an author, you must first understand yourself. Ask tough questions:
--Why do you write?
--Why is this the book of your dreams?
--What is keeping you from finishing it?
Next, analyze your personality, productivity, and present use of time. It's more than a matter of being a morning lark vs. a night owl. Record your use of time and productivity for an entire week. Using a timer, record half-hour increments. Your objective is to understand yourself, when you'll likely write your best, and what's keeping you from writing.
Now you must establish priorities and change old habits. Cabot cites William Bridges' Four P's of successful change.
--Purpose. What do you hope to accomplish?
--Picture. Create written goals and "real" pictures like a mock-up of your book cover.
--Plan. Establish a realistic schedule with small, manageable tasks.
--Part. Develop a support group. Your success requires more than you.
Accept that you can't do everything. The time to write is not free. What sacrifices are you willing to make? You'll have to decide what won't get done. For example, Amanda might forgo a picnic with her family in order to meet a writing deadline.
Organization. Advice from the experts:
--A place for everything & everything in its place.
--Establish a filing system using the KISS principle.
--Learn how much time each task takes, include transition time.
--Schedule "unscheduled" time.
--Substitute weekly organization for daily planning.
--Work from a prioritized task list.
--Find your own writing space.
--Prepare to write. Have your materials ready. Reread you last scene or refresh your memory of your last scene before bed, commuting, exercising, etc.
--Don't leave home without it. (your chapter, scene, ten pages.)
--Schedule a time to write every day.
--Remember: 5 minutes is better than none.
--Remind yourself that writing is your #1 priority.
--Optimize research time.
--Remind friends you are working.
--Use your answering machine.
--Consider e-mail a reward.
You need personal and professional support groups. Don't underestimate the internal support process. You'll need to learn to write even when the muse is missing in action, learn to survive rejection and to re-energize yourself.
After successfully applying Amanda's principles, you'll finally type those magic words: "The End." Celebrate!
Blanchard, Ken and Gottry, Steve, The On-Time, On-Target Manager
Bridges, William, Managing Transitions
Covey, Stephen R., The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Kroger, Otto and Thuesen, Janet M., Type Talk
Paul, Marilyn, It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys
Tracy, Brian, Time Power
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