Tag Archives: productivity

1,000 Days of Productivity!

doc2As of today I have logged my productivity for 1,000 days.  I have tracked my workouts, number of words written, and other sundry things, since 1/3/2012.

Check out my productivity log here.  It contains notes and comments, which means that fans of my writing may be able to figure out what new and dazzling publications are in the pipeline.  Or, if martial arts and/or fitness are your thing, go and get some workout ideas.

And I’m also kind of proud of the fact that my books have now been downloaded 1,503 times since I debuted on Smashwords back on 10/3/2012.  Not too shabby for an independent writer, if I do say so myself.

F=MA: The Secret to Success

Trains are hard to stop because they have lots of mass and they go fast. (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

There is a simple lesson that artists of all kinds can learn from Applied Physics. Believe me when I say that, whether you are a writer, a painter, or a martial artist, the equation “F=MA” is directly relevant to you.

For those who don’t remember high school science, “F” is force, and it is equal to “M” (mass) times “A” (acceleration). A bullet is small and light, its devastating force caused by blinding speed.

If you are a martial artist, your mass is largely fixed. In competition there are weight classes. You and the person you are fighting have just about the same mass. The only way you can increase your force is by increasing your speed. Outside the ring, in self-defense, speed is still the answer to the quest for greater force. Nobody wants to put on a fifty extra pounds just to have a force advantage. Bruce Lee is remembered because of his philosophy and because he has ahead of his time, but it was his incredible speed that blew people’s hair back. If you have to slow down so that the best cameras of the day can capture your movements, you are fast. You have FORCE aplenty.

If you are a writer, think of mass as the quality of your work, acceleration is your production, and force as the impact you have on history, readers, movements, and markets. Yes, you can increase quality and have some success. But if you only write one really great book (think Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind) you may not be forgotten, but there’s a chance you’ll be remembered as a one trick pony or a fluke. Greatness, i.e. maximum force, comes with speed. Authors like Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, Alexandre Dumas, Michael Moorcock, Charles Dickens, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Kurt Vonnegut produced dozens of excellent books and short stories. No one trick ponies on that list. That’s why I’ve set a goal to release at two books a year until I take my dirt nap (five so far). My plan is to leave behind an impressive body of work numbering over fifty books.

No matter what your field, it is consistent speed that will make you outstanding. People are impressed with savants who can quickly solve complicated math problems in their heads, not with someone who can do so with a pad and pen in fifteen minutes. Anybody can earn a million bucks in a thirty year career. Earn that much in a week and you’re a success guru. And so on.

But be prepared. There is also the formula E = mc2, a.k.a. the Theory of Relativity. What it postulates, in a nutshell, is that the closer you get to the speed of light the more energy is required and the more impossible it gets. In other words, going faster requires exponentially more work. That’s part of why it garners so much wonder, respect, awe, and admiration.

So while you’ll never reach light speed, there is every reason to try.

Writing Productivity Update

Writing Goals

A month ago I posted about my new approach to getting productive.  It’s working.  I’ve been keeping this little chart in Google Docs to keep track. My daily goal is 1,000 words, the ultimate goal to finish this book before I go on vacation the week of July 4th.  I’ve hit the goal about half of the time.

Right now I’m about 5,000 words behind, but that’s only against the projected 75,000 words that I think the book will work out to be.  I might get to 65,000 and be done; it could stretch to 85,000.  At some point these things take on a life of their own.

I also mentioned back in December that I was going to start using a standing desk while writing, and that’s working too.  At the office, when I write on lunch break, I put my laptop on a wine crate and write standing up.  Here at the house, I added a folding shelf to the corner cabinet in my man cave and write there.  Writing while standing increases my focus.  If I get stuck, I can walk away, pace, do a few pushups or squats, and generally shake it off.  The first night was a little strange, but I adapted and benefited very quickly.  Now I can truthfully say that I’ve learned how to ‘think on my feet.’



Writing Productivity

Realization time:  as a writer I’ve been trying to pick my own path up the mountain without learning from those who’ve gone before.

In a very Tim-Ferriss-like manner, I analyzed what I’ve been doing and found it lacking any kind of real plan.  If you’re going to climb Everest, you should know how the other guys did it, and also what killed the guys who failed.  So I started asking myself some questions, and for answers I decided to use James Patterson and Stephen King as a baseline (not because I idolize them, although I really dig King, just because they were the first two who came to mind and there’s a ton of info available about them online).

How long is the average best seller?  James Patterson averages 100,000 words, Stephen King 125,000.  My books seem to fall into the 60,000 word range, making them far too short.  The sweet spot for best-sellers seems to be in the 80,000 – 125,000 word range.

How often does a successful writer publish a new book?  In the last three years James Patterson (with the help of his famous/infamous team of assistants) has churned out over 30 novels.  Stephen King has released 6.  I’ve produced 3.

How many query letters does the average writer put in the mail each week?  I couldn’t get any reliable figures on this, but I’m fairly sure neither Patterson nor King sends query letters anymore.  Publishers call them.  I sent 5 last year.  By any measure, that’s way too few.

Anybody can run a marathon, a mile a day spread over a month.  A champion marathoner runs it in under two hours and fifteen minutes.  Anybody can write a book a year, muck around trying to sell it, and mope when nothing sells.  A master of his craft writes well, writes consistently, and actively hawks his wares.

So each week I’ve resolved to write 6,250 words and to mail at least one query letter — that’s 5 times the production and 10 times the sales effort.  And I will be coming up with stories that take a little longer to tell.

Everest, here I come.