Tuesday, February 8, 2011

One of the discoveries you will make as you grow in your writing is learning the way you work best. It's much like those tests they give you in school to determine the career path that best suits your personality and strengths. Some can't handle stress and don't muli-task well, these are the writers who should target writing one or two manuscripts a year. Others focus best and find themselves fresher when they have two or three books going at one time.

There are myriad little details seasoned writers and new authors often don't consider before contractually over-committing themselves. Let's take two little known necessities--edits and galleys--and get a glimpse of how these things can add to the stress level of an overcommitted author.

Edits are the second stage of a contracted manuscript's life. Let's say you have met your deadline for book number one and turned it in. While you are working on your second manuscript, the publisher has copy-editors, and sometimes content-editors, going over your first manuscript and writing a letter for you of proposed changes they want to see. These letters can be two pages, or ten. Oy! To top it off, you have a week to turn them in.

Galleys are the same way. This term refers to the last stage a manuscript goes through before it is printed. These, too, have a tendency to show up out of nowhere and often a short turn-around time is requested of you by the editor. And since it is your last chance to correct errors or typos, it is not the time to get sloppy with your proofing. No pressure.

Add to all this the trials of life and love and you could have more on your plate than you can handle. The key to keeping yourself at peak efficiency is discovering how you work best and knowing what you can handle, then planning accordingly. You want to set a writing schedule that helps you achieve your goals with minimal stress.

Have you ever had a moment when you didn't plan ahead and your creativity was stifled as a result? What kind of writer are you—one book a year or two or three at a time?


  1. Wow, Sandra! Thank you for sharing this with us--I know that if it's God's will for me to be published, I'm in for quite a ride! It sounds rather overwhelming, but I suppose it's like school, right? Just keep getting things done! ;)

    Anyway, right now I'm a one-book person. I'm not really letting myself think too much beyond this one book I'm working on. But I do have to say that some of these secondary characters might be asking for a book of their own in the future...


  2. Overcommitment used to be a HUGE problem for me. I said yes to everything, and because I'm a freak about finishing what I start, I got asked to do A LOT.

    Now that I've started writing, I've had to learn to let some things go, simply for lack of time. It's not been easy, but I've backed out of a couple of critique groups, streamlined my internet and TV, and when I'm under a deadline, I hold myself to a rigid writing schedule.

    As for the kind of writing I do...well...I TRY to keep it to one book at a time, but sometimes, I find myself working on two or three, depending on which characters yell the loudest. :-)

  3. You are so right, Sandra. I've often said that the real work on a novel starts after it's turned in to the publisher. In addition to the edits and galleys, there is also the artwork for the cover. Both my publishers ask for suggestions for the cover. That takes a lot of time and thought, too. But I must say it's all worth it when that box arrives on my doorstep with copies of my book in it, and I see that the cover reflects the suggestions I gave.

    Sometimes all of this can be daunting to an author just starting out. For me, I had to learn to multi-task in my job in the real world. It was easy to transfer this characteristic to the fictional world where my characters live.

    Now I feel like I'm not staying busy unless I'm working on several books at one time.

    Thanks for the great post!

    Sandra Robbins


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