Not Going To Frisco: Day 5

Welcome to Writing Biz Reality. Today is our last session. The RWA Conference is over, and everyone will be rushing home - tired and inspired to write even harder.


Today, let's talk about a subject most people don't pay enough attention to because it sounds like, well, hard work.

Many years ago I attended a workshop by Robert Vaughan who has had more than 250 books published under his own name and various pseudonyms - 35 names in all. He's been nominated for the Pulitzer, won the Porgie, the Spur (under the name K. C. McKenna), and was inducted into the Writers' Hall of Fame in 1998.

His novel Brandywine's War was named by the Canadian University Symposium of Literature as the best iconoclastic novel to come from the Vietnam War. Vaughan has written novelizations for television movies and has hit the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists twice. He's also written and produced a one-man play about Ernest Hemingway.

In addition to creating this immense body of work, he's a frequent speaker at high schools, colleges, and writing workshops. All this and he's hosted 3 television talk shows in addition to speaking at seminars, high schools, and colleges.

I give you his credentials in order to make the point that this man knows a lot more about writing and publishing - and staying published - than most of us will ever personally experience. How has he produced so many words? So many books and every kind of writing.

In the workshop I attended, he said if you look at writing talent that it's maybe 15% of writing success. And that might be stretching it.

He then said writing opportunity (going on the internet, finding editors who were acquiring, networking with other writers, etc.) is maybe 10%.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that those two elements make 25% of writing success. What's the other 75%?

Work Discipline

He said, and I agree, that Work Discipline makes up the bigger part of the equation called writing success. Vaughan said to embroider this on a sampler (I think most of us will just print out a sign) and hang it above your computer.

The bridge between talent and success is work discipline.

He advocated establishing a daily page quota whether it be 1 page or 10 or more. Every day, produce that page quota. That's work discipline. That's how he approaches every project. He knows how long it takes him to write a book, and he breaks that down into pages per day.

Meet your established quota. That's work discipline. That's the one thing that many writers lack.

Takeaway Truth

You can move a mountain one shovelful at a time just like you can write the biggest book one page at a time.


  1. Ha!

    I found your blog again! I forgot to bookmark it the first time...

    I like the advice. I started writing when I had time or when I couldn't get a story out of my head, and then a few years ago I decided I needed to write a page a day to get anywhere. Now I'm past just writing and I have goals for editing and writing and reworking. As I get better at piecing together a story my goals are slowly increasing. Instead of writing one page I want to finish a chapter each day.

    I enjoyed your series this week :o) Thank you.

  2. Hey, Just Me. I'm glad you enjoyed the series. Reading what you wrote lifted my drooping spirits. Spent the day driving down to south Texas. AC went out 100 miles from home so I cut my journey short. Waited at a McD for son to rendezvous with me to pick up his daughter. Headed home with no AC and 103 degrees of scorching heat. So I thank you for taking the time to express your appreciation. Made the horrible day better.

  3. I left Texas in May after living there for three years. Driving without an AC is insane! Treat yourself to a long glass of something cool, a nice bath, and a good book!

  4. Well, I WAS in San Francisco, and had a great time, but I'm not home. Hubby and I tacked a week on after the conference to visit some of his family in Oregon, and I'm enjoying the sorely needed decompression time. It's amazing how draining being at a conference with 2000 fellow (what's the female for 'fellow', anyway?) writers can be.

    I'll be home on Monday, and I'll be very glad I didn't come right home and have to deal with 'real life' immediately after the conference.

    I've started blogging a bit again -- some pictures and summaries -- now that I have some time and internet access.