August 09, 2013

The Business of Writing - Shirley S. Tye

I’ve received payment for some of my writing (mostly magazine articles) but I’ve never considered my writing as a business. To operate a business there must be organization, planning, and consistency. Although I am an organized person, I’ve never approached my writing systematically or with much planning. Most often it’s been a hit-and-miss method and writing under pressure to meet a deadline. Yes, I’m afraid my approach to the business of writing has been lackadaisical therefore it’s amounted to nothing more than a poor part-time business or a casual hobby.

However, I do keep track of places I’ve submitted work, and rejections and payments received. The method I prefer is an Excel worksheet to record such information as; title; type of work (column, article, contest, devotional, etc); word count; publisher or group; date the work was submitted; date the work was returned if not accepted; published date; date paid; amount paid; and receivables (the amount I’m waiting and excepting to receive). This is a quick way for me to see at a glance what work has gone out, and what has been published and paid.

For my Aunt Shirley Story Ministry I use a binder to keep track of detailed booking information. On a sheet of paper I record; name and address of the group or church; name and telephone number of the contact person; date and time of the event; number of people in the audience; age group (children, adults, seniors); title of the story and lesson taught; distance traveled to the location and home; payment received; and date I mailed a thank you card to the group or person who invited me to speak. At the bottom of the page, I total the number of speaking engagements for that year and payments received.

Although I’m good at keeping track of my writings and payments, I’m poor at managing time. Because I seldom plan ahead, I write under pressure to meet deadlines. That’s a slap happy way of conducting business. Whenever someone asks for a story or article, I immediately buckle down to complete the work on schedule. But when it comes to working on a novel, I dilly-dally along allowing other things to take priority. It’s no wonder I don’t have a novel or any type of book published as yet.

I really need to figure out a reasonable schedule in which to work on my novel and have time for other things. That shouldn’t be too difficult to accomplish. Let’s see now…there are 24 hours in a day, I need to sleep, eat, shop, go to church, go to work, have time with family…Oh, my! Excuse me now, as I go to the planning table with my calculator and take a serious look at the business of writing.


  1. I love the idea of a spreadsheet. Unfortunately, I'm kind of the opposite of you - I like to track my time, but I'm terrible at keeping track of sales and expenses...

  2. I find it very hard to concentrate on too many different kinds of writing at a time. IF you're writing articles, maybe that's where your concentration needs to be at this time. The novel will come in its time.

  3. Shirley, it sounds to me like you are doing well, even if you don't feel super organized! I'd say keep doing what you're doing, because it seems to be working and giving you opportunities to share God's love.


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