I teach at a lot of writing conferences and workshops, and I don’t care if a person is entering this field at twenty-eight or seventy-eight, there is always a concern about making the best use of what time is available for writing. I get asked where a person should focus his or her writing energies. My response is that it isn’t a matter of preferences, it’s a matter of practicality.
Let’s say a person is fifty and wants to become established as a working writer but also has dreams of one day completing some kind of major work of writing. The two seem contradictory, since it would probably take two years to sit and write a five-hundred-page nonfiction book, edit it, revise it, and then start to market it. And then (gulp!) what if it doesn’t sell? Yikes, what a waste of time!
My suggestion is to be more pragmatic. Okay, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to write a book, but why stop all else in the process? Instead, write it progressively. First, create a table of contents that lists all the topics you want to cover in this book. Second, write each of these chapters as a separate feature article (or two articles, or an article with sidebars). Third, start selling the articles to magazines.
You’ll accomplish three things at once:
- You will begin to build a platform for yourself as a published expert on the topic of your book;
- You will get byline exposure and also earn cash; and
- You will be writing your book.
This system has worked for me in writing more than twenty of my fifty-four published books. Try it! Use your time wisely.