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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Professional romance novelists can write 3,000 words a day. Here’s how they do it | Quartz

Photo: Thu-Huong Ha
"Writing is not a sexy business. It’s not a rare butterfly that floats down and gently kisses you on the nose with a brilliant idea that conjures a hurricane of cash. It’s frustrating, and it’s lonely, and for most people, it doesn’t pay" insist Thu-Huong Ha, Reporter, Quartz. 

Get typing.
AP Photo/Dale Wetzel

But one genre consistently makes it work. Romance writers who are able to get published or sell their books through self-publishing are true hustlers. The women who succeed here are not just writers, they’re business people, and they spend hours keeping up with fans online and doing their own marketing, in addition to writing.

That means that every hour of the day is precious. H.M. Ward, a self-published romance author who’s sold 13 million books, says she writes two hours a day, averaging about 2,500 words an hour. (For context, that’s two of these articles in the time it takes to eat lunch.) “Phone is set to silent. Stop watch is timing me. Door to office is shut,” she writes in an email.

Ward’s discipline is echoed throughout the genre. Nancy Robards Thompson, who writes contemporary and historical romance, has sold 38 books in thirteen years. She aims for about half of Ward’s rate—but she’ll still publish five new books this year. Katherine Garbera, who has published 94 books in 20 years, also writes 4-5 books a year. She aims to finish writing and editing a chapter a day, around 3,000 words.

What makes these writers so prolific? What gives them the ability to sit down and create day after day? Indeed, it’s taking the romance out of the process, and treating it like any normal job. Thompson says she isn’t naturally disciplined, and her level of productivity is one she’s had to work at, especially given the fact that she’s dyslexic. She believes emphatically that even a person with no level of writing experience can create habits like hers.

Maybe you’re not ready to take the plunge into full-time writing. Maybe you’re writing your 100th suspense novel or your third presidential biography, or you just want to dust off a half-finished manuscript. Wherever you are in the process, here are Thompson and Garbera’s guidelines on staying focused and productive.

Set a daily word-count goal 
Both writers insist on strictly adhered-to daily, not weekly or monthly, goals. Thompson aims for 1-2,000 new words a day, and Garbera aims for 3,000. If you miss a day, that’s double your daily goal for the next day, and that adds up. Both writers say they try not to work on the weekends, but Thompson admits she recently worked over her July 4th vacation. She adds, “Silence the internal editor.” In other words, don’t listen to any of your critical voices while you try to hit your goal; just keep writing.
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Source: Quartz