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  • Diana Schneidman

Does Mavis Beacon hold the secret to writing success?

Does the name Mavis Beacon ring a bell for you but you can’t remember quite who she is?

Mavis Beacon is the typing lady. She issued software to teach typing skills and speed. Back when my children played on display computers and gaming systems at Best Buy and similar stores, I’d kill time reading software boxes. I saw her name and photo many times.

I haven’t seen anything about her lately, but the topic of speed production is as alive as ever. Many people market their information products about how to write books or your own info products in a specified tight time span, such as 24 hours or one week.

I admit, I bought one of those years ago—fortunately the cost was modest. However, my expenditure, though small, was a waste of money . . . except that it kept me from buying more expensive but similar products.

How such programs work is quite simple

Take the assigned time period, list a number of sections to be written and later edited and proofed, divide the total time period by the number of tasks, and strictly limit the time allotted to each task based on these calculations. When the timer goes off, it’s done.

Here’s an alternate way:

Determine the number of sections to be written. Allot time for both writing and editing, divide the total time by tasks. Then set the timer for each block of time, determine topics for each section and get to work.

The principle is the same either way. Give primacy to the amount of time you will invest in the project and limit each task to the time available.

I type fairly fast, but typing even faster does not resolve my productivity issues. There is so much more to writing than getting words out on paper.

There are ways to write more quickly.

If coming up with large numbers of words quickly is your mission, consider dictation. There is software that converts speech to text. Or record your words and then hire a transcriptionist to word process them and even do some editing.

Dictation hasn’t worked well for me, in part because I tend to dictate indiscriminately as fast as I can speak, turning out copy that is too wordy and requires even more editing than first-draft keyboarding.

Write so you are proud of it.

Lots of Internet gurus place great value on measurable productivity. They recommend getting the work out quickly so you can start making money fast.

However, I have learned through personal unhappy experience that it is more important to write something I am proud of.

If you plan to sell your book or other product, it will require lots of marketing over an extended period of time.

For me, it is best to work on something until I am really happy with it. It would be so awkward to stand by as a potential buyer looks over my book if I were sadly aware of its shortcomings.

The marketing / sales wind will be behind your back if you publish your work that you love rather than sticking to a strict timetable to meet an artificially created deadline.

Originally posted 11-2-15

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