I have long believed that the best way to get better as a writer is to write (reading is important too, but writing is where the rubber meets the road). I have also said many times, you can’t edit anything that hasn’t been written down.
I haven’t been practicing those beliefs as much as I should be.
I have an excuse for that, and believe me, it is an excuse. It’s one I suspect many fledgling professional authors have faced. The excuse is this: I want every book I write to be better than the last.
At first glance that probably looks like a good goal to reach for and it is. However, and here is how it has become an excuse, I have been overthinking everything I’m about to write. In doing so, I have managed to be paralyzed into inactivity.
Let me explain.
In order to make each book better than the last, I need to have it COMPLETELY plotted out. I need to know who ALL the characters are, what their motivations are and then write incredibly tight, compelling prose.
Hardly. There have been many nights lately where work, family and volunteer commitments have left me feeling wrung out. When I’m not at my best or most alert, how can I possibly write something stellar?
The answer is, I can’t and I know that. So, for quite a while I have been letting myself off the hook by saying, it’s not worth the time to write sub-par stuff so it’s okay to sit down and watch television or simply go to bed.
The problem, and I’m sure you have already clued into it, is nothing gets written down. And what isn’t written can’t be edited into something stellar. I put an end to that poor attitude last week. I have been forcing myself (yes, forcing – the long-time pros will likely tell you, this is a job and you aren’t allowed to have unproductive days, no matter what) to write. Some days the results are awesome. Some days less so. In both cases, the story is moving forward.
That change in attitude has allowed me to write more than 7,000 new words on Scouts of the Apocalypse: Zombie War, in the past week. It has moved me from stalled at a third done (the first draft) to where I am rapidly approaching the half-way mark.
That is a very good thing, I’m sure you will agree. Especially since the number of books I’m trying to have ready in 2017 seems to be growing by the week. I have Scouts 2, Jack Kane 2, Secret Project 1, GalaxyBillies 2 and Mik Murdoch 4 all needing attention. I also have a Fantasy novel that desperately wants to be published (that has gone through several edits and likely needs one more).
If I can keep going at the rate I’ve managed over the past eight days, I can easily do all the writing I need to do for the projects mentioned above. There will be additional polishing and editing required so a couple of the projects may have to pushed out to 2018. Still, even two books out next year isn’t bad, right?
So, I’ve talked the talk. Now it’s time to walk the walk.