Writing Choice: Craft or Factory Approach?

[This is the first blog since Writing and Stuff (a collection of all the blogs on this site) came out in March. This free work has been downloaded in over 60 countries. A copy can be found at Smashwords.]

Looking back
This is my fifth straight year of being an independent author. It has not always been an easy road. One of the dynamics has been choosing between two completely different writing approaches. This blog covers what took place and what I learned.

2011-2012: The Factory Approach
During this time, I was a new author with a backlog of books. I wanted to get out as much as possible. So I came up with the factory approach which entailed the following:

1) Tracked on a spreadsheet the five phases for each book. This is Writing, Editing, Illustrating, Final Edit, and Publishing. Note there was not a Planning Phase. I color coded the status for each phase such as Underway, Done, or Planned.

2) Made an estimate on number of words for that book and tracked.

3) Had a 10,000 word status metric.

This was a successful approach in one sense. I was able to simultaneously edit and write multiple books. At the height in 2012, I published 8 books and 2 stories and a total of 185,000+ words total.

2012-To Date: The Craft Approach
But something was clearly missing. In the middle of one book, I decided the factory approach took away the fun and impacted the quality. It was coming from a viewpoint of scarcity rather than abundance. It led at times to writer’s shanks.

So in 2012, I switched to a “craft approach.” The rules were simple:

1) Work on no more than two books at once. But only one at a time.

2) Set no expectations on when things will get done or what are the next steps.

3) Allow more time to plan a book.

4) Accept that conscious failure is an option.

5) Be patient and allow disruptive fiction to happen,

6) Include time to try a story from different perspectives and styles. Choose the best combinations.

In the end, I find this more rewarding and the writing quality has improved. In 2015, I wrote five books (one a rewrite of short stories) and 129,817 pages. As a result, meatier. richer, and fewer books.

As a part-time author, you have to decide which perspective works for your circumstances and temperament. if undecided, try both and learn from the experience. I have gained so much for having done the same.

Good luck with your Writer’s journey!

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