As I sit here staring at a blank screen once again, I come back to a conversation from dinner last night…
Why do we write? I do, because I can’t afford the bar bills…
Writing is, by it’s nature, a solitary endeavor. It’s you against the blank screen, or piece of paper. It’s trying to get that one ember of an idea to blossom into something the muse can use, either to generate an idea, something to research, words or a chapter, that will make it to paper…
You can’t do that if you don’t sit in front of the computer or writing pad and do it. My ‘goal’ is to spend 6 hours a day at it, and write at least a chapter a day, which for me, is 2500-3000 words a day.
So, if I meet my goal, I should be writing a novel in roughly a month, right???
Not so fast, Sparky…
There is research, which can take hours, yet never actually make it into the book. There is re-reading, to spur that pesky muse, to go to the next chapter. There is thinking about where you are in the story arc, outline, or character development. Are you on or off them?
And then there are the distractions… Blogs, book of face, news feeds, mowing the lawn, cooking, cleaning, pre-reading for others, etc… And travel… Take a trip to do research, that’s three or more days of NOT writing.
I tend to read a few blogs everyday, and check others every day or so, and TRY to stay off the book of face, that is a damn time sink I DON’T need.
The other issue is when you get hung up, either where a chapter doesn’t fit, or the characters do a left turn, or any of a myriad of things that take you out of the story. My way of dealing with that is to have two or three works in progress, in my case, it’s currently The Grey Man– Twilight, the sequel to Rimworld- Into the Green, and a yet unnamed western. In addition, I’ve written two short stories, and submitted them for anthologies.
Some people write to music, I’m deaf enough that I just run news in the background, to provide a ‘noise’… But to each, his own.
I do consider myself VERY lucky, in that our little group allows me to throw out ideas, get them shot down, poked/prodded/viewed from multiple angles, or modified. And it’s pretty much ‘instant’ feedback.
My ‘other’ problem is, I’m a lousy writer. I spent too many years writing technical documents, briefings and other things where punctuation was less of a ‘requirement’ if you will. And I’m also a lousy roofpreader of my own work. I can read write over errors, because I know what I meant to write.
Editing is the bane of my existence, as I believe it is for most authors. It takes longer to edit a book, than it does to write it. When you add in the alpha and beta reads and fixes, realistically it’s around six months from starting the novel to actually having something ready to go to print.
There is also the ‘fear factor’… What if people don’t like it? What if I do all this work and it flops? What if x 1000… The Grey Man series is a niche series, written for those who care about the guns and details being right, and who like realistic characters.
I was really worried about switching genres, especially dipping into science fiction. That’s all made up! One of our weekend conversations was over that specific issue. Readers have options, and likes and dislikes. Some folks will follow an author if they like what he writes, others, if it’s science fiction, forget it. Don’t read it, not interested. Or you may piss off readers, who are waiting for the next book in the series, and here you went heading off into the unknown, without even a by your leave…
My sales of Rimworld are noticeably lower than the Grey Man series, but I expected that. Thankfully, the reviews are good, so far, but I have been dinged about when is the next Grey Man coming.
I don’t think I’ll ever get to a four books a year model, but I think I can reasonably write two a year. Would I like to write more? Sure… Can I? Maybe… After all, my income depends on you, the reader. I’d rather put out two GOOD books a year, than four formulaic churned out books, just to get money.
That was another point of discussion, the quality of books vs. the backlist vs. the quantity of books published. I’d much rather have a short, but well done backlist, betting on the long term returns, rather than a large number of mediocre books on the backlist.
And this was an hour that could have been spent actually writing on the novel… Sigh…