Randall Wood

Five simple and cheap ways to boost your writing


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Fighting with yourself makes for a bad action-adventure novel.

I’m doing a lot of this lately. My current work-in-progress is a serial novel involving characters from my most popular books. It’s something I’ve had in the back of my mind for some time just screaming to get out.

Festering is a word that comes to mind.

So now that I’ve finished book four of the Jack Randall series I can finally give this idea some attention. The episodes of this serial are all in the twenty-thousand word range. I have twelve episodes outlined. I’m doing a lot of reading about some really cool stuff. Criminal Behavior, Police Procedure, Profiling, the Application of Violence, and Bison.

Yes , Bison. You’ll just have to read it when it comes out.

When I quit the day-job to write full-time I thought I would be doubling or tripling my output at the least. It’s maybe gone up 30%. I’ve been working on a laundry list of items that any good small business needs. Business cards. Website. To tweet or not to tweet? Promotions. Better sales tracking. And of course, blogging.

Derek was nice enough to revamp my website. It’s still a work in progress but its 90% done. I haven’t blogged in weeks. Now that I can again I find myself not wanting to. Why?

Because I really really want to work on this serial novel!

But like everything else in life there is a balance to be found in being a successful author. What I want to do and what I need to do are often two different things and this is a classic example on one of them.

I bought a timer. It was $4. I split my day 80-20 now. When the timer goes off the WIP goes in the save file and out comes the business stuff. Time management. Another skill I need to improve.

So what’s my point? That $4 I spent on the timer is probably the best business expense I’ve made so far this year. Sometimes the simplest solution is the best answer. Here’s 5 simple and very cheap things that help me get more writing done:

1 – A paper calendar. Yes paper, not electronic. Something I can keep on the wall and consult without having to click a mouse or push a button. Hell, I don’t even have to take my fingers off the keyboard. It’s there when I need it and I’m back to work a second later.

2 – A bigger monitor. With a bigger screen you can bring up multiple files and drag them on and off or split them and not have to squint to see the resulting size 4 font. Mine is a 32′ Vizio I got on sale and you bet it’s a business expense. Just like its twin who will arrive next month.

3 – A bigger insulated coffee vessel. Yes, vessel. It’s that big. So less trips to the kitchen. Bonus points for the vessel hot plate. Some authors I know just move the whole coffee maker to their desk, but that’s a bit of overkill if you ask me. Plus it interferes with item 4.

4 – A bedtime. Write that idea down (on a good old-fashioned piece of paper) and tackle it in the morning. It’ll still be there. Your brain needs plenty of good quality sleep to come up with those awesome lies to feed the computer.

5 – Change of venue. Write somewhere else once in awhile. I have at least five different places I write in my house alone. If they made a waterproof laptop (Hey!?!) I would write in the pool. But getting out of the house can work to jump-start a story. I have the beach, a library and a Starbucks within a mile of my house. One of the librarians doesn’t know it but she became a character one day, right down to what she was wearing, and I was on to the next scene minutes later. I’d of had to invent her from scratch, and spend much more time doing so, if I were at home.

Simple, yet effective. If helps get words on the page. It’s what I want and it’s what the readers want.

There’s expensive ways to help your writing too. I’ll think about that for later.

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