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Don't Kill Productivity
by Marie-Helen Goyetche
Productive writers write. The more they write
the more money they make. Non-productive writers keep hoping for that money to
come their way. It won't. Being a self-disciplined writer will determine how
successful a writer you'll be. Here are ten areas to ensure structure and
Clutter: Take care of paper and problems as they
arise. If an editor wants a reprint, deal with it immediately. If you receive
guidelines and sample magazines, carefully take notes rather than keeping the
whole magazine. Get into the habit of keeping your desk clean and clutter free.
Have a filing system such as hanging files, colored folders or index cards. Make
sure you regularly clean out your files. If you put a paper in a file and don't
look at it within the next year - throw it out. Chances are you won't need
Paperwork: Put telephone numbers, addresses, fax
numbers and email addresses in a book or rolodex. Otherwise you'll write on
little pieces of paper, or on envelops. When the time come you'll end up
searching all over when you really need it.
Interruptions: They can kill a business. Use an
answering machine. Don't get in the habit of talking to your friends and fellow
writers all day. Use a kitchen timer and limit each call to five minutes, after
the bell goes off tell the person you are talking to, you must get back to work.
If that doesn't work make up an excuse - you're off to an interview, another
line is ringing, someone's at the door... Responding to emails can also disrupt
a writer at work.
Miscommunication: Follow up an acceptance phone
call with a email of exactly what was said in the conversation. Don't be afraid
to ask if there are details that are unclear. The editor that has accepted your
query, be specific, are you writing 'on spec' or are you assigned the article?
How much will you receive? What rights will you be selling? Get the details out
of the way so you can concentrate your energy in the right direction.
Lack of specific goals: All writers have bills
to pay therefore this might be a good goal to make. For example: every month you
need xxx dollars, so you keep marketing your work until you have attained or
surpassed your goal. Other writers will be motivated by using the number of
accepted articles a month. Be careful that your work is not published too widely
in non-paying markets. Being published in non-paying markets is good in the
beginning or if it's a cause you support. Don't spend you time writing for
Indecision: Pondering whether to write in the
third person or the first person? Which approach to use such as a quiz or
how-to? Should you interview three subjects or four? Write a detailed outline
with all the possible angles and put it away for a day or two. When you come
back to your article, you'll be able to weed out the good ideas from the bad.
Overload: It's a writer's dream to have too many
articles to write in a short span of time. Although you might not be able to
control demand and response times, you can plan time around your articles. Have
a calendar and write down the deadline date, the title and the publication. Send
in your article(s) a few days ahead of your deadline rather than a day or two
Lack of planning: Learn to plan your time. Buy
yourself an organizer date-book with one page set aside for each day. Write
everything that needs to be done. Not only in your writing life, but also write
down your family life and other activities. What family activity or outing might
you miss if you schedule an interview on that day? Write up a "to do" list and
check off what you have accomplished. Plan your research time as well. Don't
spend too much time over researching or web surfing.
Lack of self-confidence: Forget saying you're
not good enough! Do your best and when you get rejection slips, turn around and
send your piece right back out to another editor. You never know where your next
check will come from- send, send, send.
Procrastination: This is a waste of time. Don't
talk and complain. Focus your energy into a productive mode not a destructive
Writing is a lonely job but if you are prepared
and are self-disciplined, you will have a successful and rewarding
© Copyright 1999, Marie-Helen Goyetche
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