Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website.
When I'm interacting with parents of teen writers, one of the questions I often get asked is, "How should I encourage my writer to spend their time?"
One of the trickiest things for writers who want to be published, it seems, is to figure out how to invest their writing time. Publishing isn't just a quirky industry, there are approximately a gazillion resources you can read on the topics of writing a book, editing a book, getting published, marketing, and being successful.
In my experience, writers tend to fall into one of these two extremes:
The non-writing writer
15% is spent socializing in writers circles or on social media
5% is spent actually writing
The only-writing writer98% of their time is spent writing
1% is spent fretting about never getting published
1% is spent fretting about having to market should they ever get published
Neither of these are an ideal balance. What I suggest is a breakdown that looks more like this:
10% of time learning about the industry - on blogs, in books, wherever
10% of time socializing with other writers - on blogs, on Facebook, in forums, in person, etc.
80% of time writing, writing, and writing some more
If we wanted to get real particular, we could throw reading or blogging in there too, but for simplicity's sake, we'll focus on these three categories.
The number one job of an aspiring novelist, as Jill and I say in Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft into a Published Book , is to learn how to write a great book. If you don't have a great book, all the networking and Tweeting and querying you're doing won't have much of a return.
But, if you've devoted all your time to writing and no time to understanding the industry or making friends in the writing community, you might be in for a battle as well. That's where I was when I first started trying to get published. I thought I was ready to query, but I didn't know what genre I wrote, or even that I needed to define a genre.
The 80/10/10 breakdown isn't meant to be a rule for how you split up each day. Some days it may play out like that, but if you're like me, this might be more of a weekly or monthly thing. Some weeks, I have to buckle down on a writing project to get them turned in on time, so I ignore email and the industry blogs that I typically enjoy. There are other times where I wish I could be writing, but there are blog posts to write and marketing to be done. I strive for a good balance overall.
How do you feel about the ways you use your writing time? Do you feel good about your balance, or do you think you need to adjust in some ways?
Also, congratulations to the finalists from the, "I've never been the type" contest:
(Listed in alphabetical order)
L. R. Williams
Laurie J. Curtis