I am often asked how I am so “prolific.”

Is it just me, or does prolific sound like a communicable disease, like the kind you might catch from a public toilet? Well, whatever it is, I don’t have it. I do, however, have a fairly strong work ethic, thanks to my father. Any time we goofed around when we should have been working, he would admonish us, “Don’t just stand there playing with yourself.” Yes, my mom loved this just as much as my brother and I did. Especially when he hollered it out to us on the basketball court or baseball field, with all the other (normal) parents around.

With his words of wisdom resounding in my head, I published five books in May of 2012. I will publish another in November of this year. There are no super hero powers involved. It’s a very simple secret: when I finish one book, I don’t stand there playing with myself (!), I start another. Maybe I take a short break to rejuvenate my brain, but I keep it short and stick to a schedule. And then I write.

Sure, you’re thinking, so do I. Many of you do.Β  I learned from some of you.

Some of you don’t. (Although I am not suggesting that you instead stand there, and, well, you know.)

When I say I start another book, I mean that I do not wait to see what happens with the current book. I mean I write the end, and I start the next one. Now, I only devote three to four hours a day to writing books, because it is all my brain can handle. That leaves a lot of other hours for blog posts, marketing, mothering, wifing, working out, and a day job. It leaves time to decide what to do with the last book, to hand it off to the critiquers, or the editor, or for formatting (commensurate with whatever stage it is in).

If your goal is only to indie publish your one book, then please ignore this advice. We all set our own goals, the goals that are meaningful to us. They should drive every decision and action we take. I am only talking in this post to the people whose goals require volume.

It’s soooo easy to stop writing. Writing is hard. Writing hurts. Writing is time-consuming. Writing doesn’t love you back πŸ™‚ But if you want to indie publish successfully, you need volume, you need a back list. You need to keep writing. So, set up an editorial calendar for your planned books (and, oh yeah, plan ahead for the books you want to write — you can always change the plan, but without a plan, it is hard to have an editorial calendar), then a daily schedule that includes time to write. If you fall behind, schedule a makeup weekend, and write your hands off until you catch up. Or don’t.Β It’s up to you. But if you’re one of the many people that say, “I want to be a multi-title author, I want to have a back list, I want to be prolific, I want to be like you when I grow up,” you’ll have to work hard and with a lot of self discipline to get there. No fairy dust or magic beans will do the trick.

I don’t even need to write a long blog post on this topic. The advice is simple, take it or leave: don’t just stand there playing with yourself; keep writing. The end.



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14 Responses to “Don’t just stand there playing with yourself.”

  1. Eric Hutchins says:

    Love it. Love that you have the drive to do it, love that you know you are in it for the long haul, fully committed to this adventure.

    • Pamela says:

      And that I don’t just stand there doing you know what πŸ™‚ Yes, I know, and thank you very much. It’s nice to have appreciation at times for the Type A side of me. Even though at other times we both know it gets pretty hard to love.

  2. Heidi M says:

    Lol — I can just hear your dad saying those words…:-). You are woman, P! Write on, rock on!

    • Pamela says:

      Such a golden tongued individual, he is! I have heard from him since posting this. Not with “oh how embarrassing,” but with, “If I knew I was going to be quoted I might have come up with something even better.” πŸ™‚

  3. This is truly inspiring me. I’ve actually been syking myself out thinking I won’t be able to write another book. And I have ideas! But what the heck am I sitting here playing with myself about this for? Just do it! Sometimes that’s the only thing that motivates me to finish the book I’m working on. Just write! Omgoodness. You rock, Pamela:) You totally rock.

    • Pamela says:

      It’s a simple concept yet most writers I know get stuck when they get to The End, and they mire down with that book, trying to figure out how to edit it perfectly or query it or self publish. Don’t worry about that yet. Send it to a critiquer. And start the next one. Creativity happens in the midst of work, ya know? Sometimes it takes a lot of slogging through mud before the sun comes out, but if you are inside with the doors shut, how would you know?

  4. Susie Fagan says:

    He did yell that on many occasions and I waS EMBARRASSED EVERYTIME – but you left out the rest of his statement– “just make something happen!”

    • Pamela says:

      What is sad is that I think the rest of the statement made it worse. As I recall, there was sometimes a discussion of what exactly you could make happen if you were … doing that.

      Oh, the burden of being his offspring πŸ˜‰

  5. I guess this means I can quit taking those Magic Beans every morning, huh!?! Funny but CHOCK full of excellent advice. I am going to make up a sign to post on my wall with that very quote. It will remind me and make me laugh, too – the very best attitude to be in when writing – UP!!

  6. Stasha says:

    I like your straight shooting. Also, I like how you plan things. I am not a writer but I can relate to it from a photographers point of view. Sure it is an art form, but you also need discipline and a master plan. Greta post Pamela.

    • Pamela says:

      “Art doesn’t create itself” πŸ™‚
      So you have to make yourself find a way to do the work or the art is never created.
      Plan + action = art!

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