July 18, 2016

On Being Productive

By Edith Maxwell

I’m often asked how in the world I can write three novels a year. For one thing, my publishers set deadlines, and panic is a great motivator! More seriously, I approach my fiction writing as a career. I left my most recent day job – writing software manuals – three years ago. I’m not retired; this is just my new (and, I hope, last) full-time job.

My most creative time is in the mornings. I’m always up by six AM and writing by seven. Ramona DeFelice Long, a writer and editor friend in Delaware, cyber-hosts morning “sprints.” It’s a great way to work. She posts the sprint thread on Facebook every morning sometime before seven o’clock. Bunches of us from all over check in, writing things like, “Running down for a second up of coffee,” “Here, but barely,” or “Got up early, already have one sprint under my belt.”

Then we do nothing but work for an hour straight. No email, no Facebook, no phone. Just work. If I’m writing a first draft, my goal for the morning is 2000 words. Sometimes, if the story is flowing, I can churn out almost half that in the first hour. If I’m revising, I dive in and polish, trim, elaborate, whatever the book needs, for the hour.

At eight I surface, get some more coffee, grab a bite to eat, and then set the timer again. I find turning off those exterior distractions is so important to letting the words flow. It’s also key that I don’t schedule anything but writing for my mornings. I leave appointments, exercise, and all the considerable business side of being an author for the afternoons.

I have other author friends whose creative time is later in the day, and others who have a day job and sprint on their lunch breaks. We each make it fly in our own particular way. By working every morning but Sunday, and with some focus, I manage to write three mystery series. And I’m living my dream.
Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and the Country Store Mysteries (as Maddie Day), as well as award-winning short crime fiction. Maxwell, a former technical writer, farmer, and doula, is Vice-President of Sisters in Crime New England and Clerk of Amesbury Friends Meeting. She lives north of Boston with her beau and three cats, and blogs with the other Wicked Cozy Authors. You can find her onFacebooktwitterPinterest, and at her web site.

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