Some writers treat their writing as a hobby. They write when they feel like it and they do not write when they do not feel like it. Many writers making the move from a hobby to a part or full time career must learn to impose discipline on their craft because they are accustomed to this on again/off again relationship with the muse. The difference between a professional writer and a hobbyist is often just the ability to write even when you do not feel like writing. For those of you making the leap from hobby to career here are three tactics you can employ to ramp up your production and move your career to the next level.
Set production goals. Daily production goals will help you stay focused on getting work done. Word count or revision page goals can push you through your long term projects. If you work on articles or blogs, you might set daily article or blog post goals. You will also need to schedule time to spend on marketing, research, and other business tasks. If you want to earn money from your writing, then you have to think of it as a business and make a plan for how much work you should do each day.
Bracket your time. Many of the tasks associated with writing do not lend themselves to a checklist until you impose a time limit on them. Tasks like responding to e-mail and networking to increase your online visibility can consume an entire afternoon if you are not careful. Bracketing your time will help you manage these tasks. For example, if you need to research a topic, allow yourself fifteen or twenty minutes, set a timer and when that is done, you check the research off your list. If the research is incomplete add another block to your to do list. You will eventually get a feel for the amount of time your research should take, and along the way you will have limited the instances when you let yourself follow lead after lead on an endless research study. Bracketing the time you plan to spend on less concrete tasks will help you contain those that might suck several hours out of your week when left unchecked.
Find an accountability partner. If you struggle with completing your tasks, you may find it beneficial to team up with an accountability partner who will help you stay focused on the big picture. When you are only accountable to yourself for meeting your goals, you may find it easy to ignore them or lighten them when the going gets tough. Regular contact with an accountability partner can help you hold yourself to the high standards you need to meet to succeed.
Making the shift from writing as a hobbyist to writing as a professional requires a new relationship with your craft. As you hold yourself accountable to setting and meeting goals you will find your production increases and even your non-writing efforts will be more productive.