Since it is day 300, that feels like a milestone, so you get two bits of thoughts from me today.
I started writing the first half of this post on my phone at MileHiCon following a conversation I had with another unpublished author regarding the panels on writing. We’d gone to a panel on writing trilogies and I found myself fairly quickly bored and uninterested in attending any of the other writing panels. This wasn’t because the panelists weren’t engaging or entertaining, they were, but a lot of what was being said, and the questions being asked by the audience, had all been said before, and many times. There was nothing new, and that got me to thinking about workshops and panels and books on writing, and how, I think, they have value to a certain point, and then they just become a crutch.
Some famous writer once said, while sitting at a convention on a panel, “The only difference between the writers up here and the ones sitting in the audience is that we finished.” That’s huge, and right on the money. They did finish. Not only that, they finished, queried while probably writing another book, and kept moving forward. I think a lot of wannabe writers don’t finish. Why? Well, that’s part of the crutch I mentioned above.
Sometimes, we create barriers and say,
I need to:
- Learn all the rules
- Read these five books (and then these ten after that)
- Do more research (and then some more research, which leads to more, and then even more)
- Attend these X workshops
- Win NaNoWriMo
- Fill twelve more spiral bound notebooks on how religion and commerce on my fictitious world works… (because the sixteen I already have aren’t enough)
Maybe you do need to do these things. Some of them. Up to a point. But if you are so busy and involved in research and worldbuilding and workshop taking that you never put a word of the actual story on the page, I think you’re procrastinating. Probably because you’re not sure you can actually do it, finish the story. And you’re not alone. Most writers wonder the same thing, and if you never start, you can’t fail, right?
And it’s not just about writing. How many times have you said that this is the year you’re going to get into shape, lose weight, stop watching television, eat out less, save money, and you haven’t because you were afraid you would fail? And people would know.
If you need to read a book on writing, do it. But don’t read all of them. Don’t go to an endless amount of workshops and take notes but never act on them. Panels are wonderful and can be quite informative, but if you’re spending all of your time listening to other writers talk about writing, you aren’t writing yourself. And isn’t that the point of it all? To write the story?
You’re looking for advice, that’s why you’re reading all the books, going to the panels, so I’d like to offer you some. First, draw a line in the sand. I will only research this far and no farther. When I reach this line, that’s it, I’m done. Time to start, to sit your butt down in the chair and start writing.
Know what else? That sentence is the gist of most of those books. Take it from someone who has finished. Even if I’m not published yet, I finished the story. More than one, and you can too.
You just have to start.
In other news…
I am hitting my word count goals again. Pushing hard on the epic fantasy, but I have realized that the little voice in the back of my head who was telling me 100K words wasn’t going to be enough, was probably right. I am fast approaching 100k words and still have a decent chunk of story to tell. I will probably end up giving myself an additional 10k words because I don’t want to short change the story. Luckily, this is an epic fantasy, so 110k words is still on the slim side.
I was stuck for a little while on a chapter that just wasn’t coming together. In ‘the old days’, I would have stayed stuck until I figured it out, but today, thanks to Scrivener, I just mark the spot and move on. Come back to it later. Sometimes it’s difficult to articulate how important that is. It’s the whole ‘non-linear’ writing thing, which I can’t live without at this point. I can jump around when I need to, keep the words flowing and push towards the end. The bit I was stuck on lasted only a few days and then I woke up and knew what had to happen. Sat down and fleshed it out in just a few hours.
A couple nights ago, I wrote this bit and wondered when my epic fantasy had become a bad 80’s buddy-cop movie:
Whether that will stay in once edits commence, I’ve no idea (probably not). Still, it amused me to write it in the first place.
I’m at that place in the story where my little ‘fellowship’ of travelers is breaking up and bad, bad things are happening. Which can be fun to write, I must say. Oh? You were happy little character? WELL HAVE A FLAMING METEORITE TO THE BRAIN BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA! (not really, but you get the gist…)