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Standing Orders

March 24th, 2017

When I worked for a high street bank I was taught all about standing orders. These allow you to pay the same amount of money to the same person/company on a continuous basis. It’s a regular commitment.

Whenever a new customer opened up a current account with us we encouraged them to open up a savings account too. Then we’d set up a standing order to transfer a small amount to their new savings account on the day after payday.

Transfer £50 every month and after 12 months those small little deposits mount up to £600. Not a bad little sum: ideal to put towards Christmas, or perhaps a summer holiday.

What I didn’t realise when I embarked on my freelance writing career was that writers should make standing orders too. Not financial ones, but time and word standing orders.

Commit to writing half an hour every day and after a week you’ve have achieved 3 ½ hours of writing: that’s more than 15 hours a month (or the equivalent of two full-working days) and 182 hours a year. All from just a 30-minute a day commitment.

The same goes for words. Create a word standing order, such as committing to write 500 words a day, and in a week you’ll have written 3,500 words, about 15,200 words a month, and 182,500 words in a year. That’s the equivalent of two novels.

Everything we write represents that standing order commitment. In 2014, the editor of Writing Magazine asked me to write a monthly feature under the title of The Business of Writing. As each feature was published, so I saw my published word bank grow. It wasn’t until I stopped and took a step back that I realised what I had created with this regular commitment. I had enough material here for a book.

So what started out as me sitting down to write a small article, has developed into having written so many words that I have enough to fill a book. And that’s what I’ve done. I’ve collected my most popular articles from this column and put them all into one book: The Business of Writing.

I’ve chatted to many different writers when researching each of these articles, and when I collected together the first volume in book format, I was surprised with the result: a book with advice, hints and tips from more than 50 professional writers, some of whom have been on the UK bestseller lists, the New York Times bestseller lists or the USA Today bestseller lists. Even productivity guru David Allen (of the international bestseller Getting Things Done fame) offers a few words of wisdom.

So the next time you sit down to write, don’t think about the big project you’re trying to achieve. Just think of it as a small standing order. As the philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “The journey of a thousand miles, begins with one small step.”

The Business of Writing is available in print and digital formats. (http://www.thebusinessofwriting.co.uk/the-business-of-writing-volume-1 )

Simon Whaley is a freelance writer, and former tutor for the Writers Bureau. He’s the bestselling author of One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human, published by Hodder & Stoughton, and his features have appeared in publications in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia. His short stories have been published in many of the UK women’s magazines.

His new blog is also called The Business of Writing, and can be found at www.thebusinessofwriting.co.uk

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