For August, my RWA chapter had author Jodi Thomas as our guest speaker. Her program was titled “How to Keep From Falling Off the Ladder of Success.” Ms. Thomas is a multi-bestselling author of over 40 books and a member of RWA’s Hall of Fame with five Rita wins to her credit. She certainly has the background to give us advice about success.
She talked a little bit about the five years it took to sell her first book. One important reminder to everyone was that published authors have to write by the clock. What this means is that no longer do you have the luxury of playing around until you discover the perfect sentence. Now deadlines loom.
Ms. Thomas is also the Writer-in-Residence at West Texas A & M University in Canyon, TX near Amarillo. As such, she deals with students and teaches them about writing.
One of her interesting tips deals with stopwatches. Students would declare they spent two to three hours a day writing, yet never seemed to have many pages to show for this effort. Slow writers? Ms. Thomas thought maybe they weren’t spending as much time writing as they thought. Each student obtained a stopwatch. Every time they sat down to write, they clicked it on. If they got up to get coffee, snack, bathroom break, or whatever, they clicked the watch off. If they stopped writing and surfed the internet or played a game, while seated in front of their computer, the stopwatch had to be clicked off again. It could only be running during actual writing time when words were being added to the screen. Very quickly this exercise taught the students that they weren’t actually writing two to three hours a day. They were lucky to hit twenty minutes of work daily.
She spoke also about the importance of avoiding people who drain you. Their negativity impacts your creativity and wears you down. By the same token, acknowledge those who help you. Not just your editors or agent, but those who encourage your creativity. Recognize them and appreciate them. They are gifts to your life.
Her talk was the best kind of program. Both inspiring and practical. I left the meeting, eager to return to my manuscript and buy my stopwatch. Knowing it was ticking will give me incentive to continue producing.