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How to Value your Writing

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This past weekend, Laura, a member of the Wise Ink team, attended the DFW Writer’s Conference outside of Fort Worth, Texas.


While there were dozens of classes and events that were absolutely fabulous and incredibly helpful for indie and traditional writers alike, perhaps the best moment of the conference was the keynote by New York Times best-selling author, Jonathan Maberry. In case you haven’t heard of him, Maberry is the very definition of prolific: he’s written dozens of books (fiction and non-fiction alike), comic books, and consistently teaches and lectures on writing and publishing.


Maberry writes a book every few months. He’s well enough established in the traditional world of publishing that he no longer writes a book that hasn’t been pre-sold. But despite his millions of readers and legions of fans, he is one of the best authors we know at valuing his own time and writing.


Like many career writers, Jonathan Maberry spent years making little to no money from his craft. But he had a goal to become published and successful, and he stuck to it. No matter what, he wrote every day. Even if it was Christmas. Even if he was sick. Even if he didn’t want to and had nothing to say. What he didn’t do, however, was make writing a burden.


Maberry set a modest writing goal: about 250 words, or about a page a day. If he was inspired and wrote more, great. But if he only wrote the bare minimum, that was fine. But every time he made his word goal for the day, he put a couple of dollars in a jar.


What those dollars are is a salary. If Maberry couldn’t value his own time and his own craft, then he couldn’t expect anyone else to. So he paid himself. Suddenly, writing became valuable, not just personally, but financially. It was easier to be motivated, and easier to ask others to pay for his work.


So what happened after the writing project was over? Maberry had to spend the money in his jar. But he couldn’t spend it on bills. He couldn’t invest it. No. He had to spend it on something fun. If he missed a word count one day, he had to take a week’s worth of money out of the jar. By just earmarking that money for something good, like a vacation or a nice meal at a new restaurant, Maberry was associating writing with pleasure, which, in turn, made it easier to write.


What’s amazing about the simple brilliance of this process is that he continues to put money in his jar every day, without fail, even though he’s a successful author.


Writers, does this process appeal to you? What system do you use to stay motivated and to value your time and your work?




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  1. That’s a very good idea and quite practical but how much money do you consider putting in the jar? i know you’ve put a couple of dollars but do you think say ‘how much you would get an hour in a regular job?’ or just play it by ear?

    • Because you’re essentially paying yourself, how much you put in the jar really comes down to how much you can afford. You might start with one dollar, and when you become successful, increase it! Basically it’s any amount that will positively motivate you but not put stress on your current financials. There’s no one right way to do it. Whatever works for you is best!

  2. I track my writing time in a spreadsheet. I use timers to keep track of how much of my time goes to various writing tasks, and I add things up weekly to see how I am doing overall. Over the three years I’ve been tracking my time, I’ve seen a steady increase in the amount of time I spend writing. I also make a point of valuing all my writing: I include journal writing and notes I make about the books I read as part of my writing effort. Honoring all my writing by counting the time spent makes me eager to do lots of different kinds of writing.

    • Wow! That’s amazing commitment! I think we can all take a page from your book. Thanks for the comment!

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