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?