Tuesday, July 2, 2019

One Hundred Words Per Minute

This week we are posting about the most valuable business skill that we’ve used in our writing career.
Here’s my take on it.

It may sound odd, but I wasn’t sure what “business skill” meant. “Business” is a vague word that can take on a lot of meanings. The word business connotes busy-ness. People “go about their business,” and it means they are doing the things they normally do, which may be nothing more than going to the grocery store or picking up the kids from school. “None of your business” means don’t get involved with other people’s lives. 

In the case of writers, our “busy-ness” is focused on writing. I looked up skills for business on the internet and found  this list of Essential Skills:

·       Financial management.
·       Marketing, Sale, and customer service
·       Communication and negotiation.
·       Leadership.
·       Project management and planning.
·       Delegation and time management.
·       Problem solving.
·       Networking.

It strikes me that the skills that help us succeed in our writing career are basically the same skills needed to succeed in everyday life. We have to manage our money, communicate, negotiate (with ourselves and others), provide leadership (leading ourselves to our desk to get to work), manage our time, solve plot problems, etc.. When we publish, we have to learn the arcane business of marketing and sales, we have to network, which involves not only marketing our own books, but supporting fellow authors in their efforts.

 And the same thing applies to “advanced” skills in the list below.

·       Complex problem solving.
·       Critical thinking.
·       Creativity.
·       People management.
·       Coordinating with others.
·       Emotional intelligence.
·       Judgement and decision making.

Service orientation.

Which of these things has been most helpful to me? None of the above. When I was in grade school, I taught myself to type. Who knows why? It was a whim. I had seen my mother type since I was a child—she was a fast, accurate typist whose skills were essential in the World War II years when she worked in a munitions plant. When my father was in college when I was a toddler, my mother typed his papers. I remember going to sleep to the sound of the typewriter. So maybe it was admiration for her that drove me. But whatever the reason I had for learning to type, I’m not sure I ever had a more useful skill. I worked my way through college typing, and in college typed all my papers. in writing it has been a key skill. I’ve always been a fast typist, so when people say that I write fast, I sometimes think that’s because I can type as fast as I think.

When I lost the use of my right hand for a time a few years ago, I wondered how I was ever going to write my next book. Turned out that if you type over 100 words per minute, typing with one hand still gets you 50 words per minute. My fifth book was written entirely with my left hand.

As I writer, of course I value creativity, time management, marketing, critical thinking, networking, and all the rest. It’s important that I have computer skills, that I am able to give talks that have substance and humor, that I can update my website, that I can navigate the internet for research, that I can participate in multiple social media sites. It’s valuable to be able to delegate jobs that I can give someone else to do, like recently hiring someone to read all my books and put together a Bible of characters. I have to be able to make a judgement about whether an idea I have for a story is going to be viable. When the times comes, I have to be able to edit effectively. I have to communicate about my books, from pitching the initial idea to my publisher to talking to readers about them.

There’s hardly a business skill that isn’t useful, but for my money, the time I took to teach myself to type all those years ago tops the list.

Terry Shames
A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary
The Samuel Craddock Series


Paul D. Marks said...

Terry, I agree with you about typing. I took it in high school cause I had to. Then I didn't use it for several years. But when I need it it came back, just like riding a bicycle. And it's one of the best and most useful things I know. And I can type pretty fast and with few errors.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

I learned typing in school as well, Terry, and although I can't crank out a hundred words a minute, it sure does come in handy.

Terry said...

The funny thing is that my sister declared that she'd never take typing in school because she want to be in the workforce as a typist. Along the way she did learn to type out of necessity--and just wrote her first book!

Cathy Ace said...

I wasn't allowed to learn to type in school, and never did learn thereafter. I am a pretty proficient three-fingered typist now, and I find my speed increases the deeper into the first draft I get...though I still have to look at the keys, not the screen...LOL!