Writing is a business.
Unfortunately, most authors don’t treat it that way. Which is why so many struggle to earn a decent living.
In just about any other business, it’s standard practice to measure productivity and output. A car manufacturer will measure how many cars they produced in a day. A restaurant will measure key numbers like headcount, turnover, average ticket price, cash collected, and so forth.
What do writers measure?
So what do writers measure?
Well, most writers don’t measure, or at least don’t measure the right things. And that is precisely the problem.
Here are some factors you can start measuring right away to help improve your writing career:
- Daily word count
- Daily time spent writing
- Average word count per hour
- Manuscripts completed
- Published books
These are just a few examples. You could measure hundreds of other factors like book sales and free downloads. But I believe the 5 factors in that list are the most important.
Here’s why you need to measure how much you write…
Book sales are the end result in a long chain of activities (causes). But where do book sales come from? Book sales come from writing a book.
You can’t sell a book you haven’t written.
Sound obvious? Of course it is!
But most authors only measure how many books they’ve sold and don’t measure the fundamental activity that produced those books in the first place – how much time you spend writing and how fast you write! This is a big mistake.
If you want to know how to write more, it’s really quite simple: write more consistently. Train yourself to write on a daily basis. Even just writing 15 minutes a day can help you create the habit of writing consistently, and that habit alone can help you become a much more successful author.
What I Learned About the Writing Business from Direct Sales
At 19 when I started working in direct sales, I learned very quickly from those who were earning millions of dollars that there are three kinds of people in business:
1) those who don’t do the work,
2) those who do the work, and
3) those who used to do the work but got stuck in ‘management mode.’
Management mode happens after you’ve written a book, published your book, and then decide to spend all your time ‘managing’ your book instead of working on your writing career!
Here are a few signs your writing career might be stuck in management mode:
- You check your book sales daily or multiple times a day (for you self published authors)
- You spend all your time on social media, forums or blogs promoting your published book and never get around to writing your next book
- You’re waiting to see if your first book sells well enough to make it ‘worth your time’ to write your next book
When you’re stuck in management mode, you’re doomed to fail as a writer!
When you get stuck in management mode, you stop doing the crucial activities that led to your success in the first place. Publishing a book and selling copies is success for an author. Congratulations on your achievement!
But don’t stop now. You’ve only just begun your journey as an author. If you stop now, you’re throwing away all the momentum you’ve developed when you wrote and completed your first book.
Instead of getting stuck in management mode, get to work on your next project!
1) Schedule Your Writing Time
In your calendar, schedule your writing time every week. Just like you wouldn’t miss a scheduled appointment to meet a friend for lunch or go to the doctor for a checkup, you won’t miss your appointments to write your book when they’re scheduled in your calendar.
2) As Soon as You Finish a Book, Start Writing Your Next One
As soon as you finish your book, start right away on your next project!
Once you send off your first book to your editor, or even before, you should immediately start working on your next manuscript.
First of all, this is just a great habit to have. It will keep you focused on what you can control (how much you write), and it will keep you in the habit of writing consistently.
If you’ve ever read a book on habits, you know that habits are easier to develop and maintain when the activity you want to turn into a habit is done regularly. When you write one book, finish it, and then stop writing for weeks or months, it can be really hard to maintain that good habit of regular writing.
Instead of getting stuck in management mode, just keep on writing. This one habit is the one that separates the great authors from the mediocre. It’s what will help separate you from the pack and take you career to the next level.
Writing is a Business
Remember, writing is a business.
What would you think of a restaurant that just randomly decided not to be open for days, weeks or even months at a time? Would you think well of that restaurant? Would you consider the owners to be professional, competent and reliable? Probably not.
So if you want your readers, publishers, agents, editors, family, the media, and anyone else to think of you as a professional author, prove it. Schedule your writing time. Write consistently. Don’t get stuck in management mode.
That’s how you break out from the pack and become a successful writer. You do it by doing the small things every day that eventually lead to the big things being accomplished, like finishing a manuscript and getting your book published.
Is it easy? No. But it’s simple. This isn’t rocket science. What it takes to be a successful writer and author isn’t complicated or esoteric. Anyone with a little bit of intelligence and a lot of persistence can become a good writer and a successful author if you treat it like a business.