Various thoughts that were thought while slightly fevered

Forgive the lateness of this post, please. I’ve been whining and moaning courageously battling strep throat for the past several days, and so I don’t have an in-depth commentary on anything, but rather a variety of thoughts on issues that occurred to me while whining and moaning courageously battling strep throat.

Setting goals

I’ve met dozens and dozens of people who claim that they want to write a book but just “can’t find the time.” My response is always the same: “Write one page a day. At the end of a year you’ll have a book.”  The reactions to this vary. Sometimes it’s a bit of a wince, as if I’ve called their bluff. Other times it’s a sudden appreciation for how much dedication and discipline it takes to write a book. (Yes, I’m asking you to commit half an hour every day for a year.) Other times I see a dawning enlightenment, as if I’ve suddenly handed this person the keys to the kingdom.

I know that most of these people who profess to a desire to write a book have no real desire to write a book. They don’t have the drive or passion to make such a commitment, and are only saying that they will “someday” write a book to either minimize my own accomplishments or their own insecurities. (Oh, you wrote a book? Well, I could do that too, but I’m just SO busy with Other Important Stuff that I don’t have time to show you how easy it is to do what you’ve done.)

But the last group of people–the ones to whom I’ve handed the keys–are the ones who probably scrawl scenes and snippets of story, or fan fiction and character studies. And those are the ones who’ve been afraid to tackle a novel because… well, let’s face it, it’s intimidating. A hundred thousand words is a lot of typing (and that’s just for a first draft!)

So, break it down. Don’t make your goal “Finish a novel.”  Make your goal “I will write x number of pages a day/week/weekend.”

(By the way, this applies to other areas of life as well. Instead of saying, “I will lose thirty pounds!” instead tell yourself, “I will walk thirty minutes every day.”  No, I’m nowhere near as successful with this one, darnit.)

Taking breaks

Butt In Chair is a terrific motto for a writer to live by. If you aren’t writing, it’s tough to be a writer. However, I firmly believe that once a writer has established the Butt In Chair discipline, they also need to work on the Fill The Well aspect of writing as well. I hear of writers who claim to write 8-10 hours a day, every day, and my reaction is the same as it would be to anyone who works 60-70 hours a week at whatever job they have: “Dude. Get a life!”  I think this is especially important for writers, or anyone who depends on creativity to fuel their output. Now, it probably shouldn’t be done when looking down the barrel of a deadline, but in those times when one has breathing room, step away from the computer, read some books, take up another hobby for a while, go to the zoo, or a museum… that sort of thing. IMO, your writing will be better for it. As will your mental health.

My schedule

Again, there are writers who write every day. I’m not one of them. I don’t write on weekends or during holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I do my best to be self-disciplined, and I do set goals for weekly output, but I’ve learned (the hard way) that attempting to write when family is around is an exercise in frustration, so I’ve ceased to waste my time and good humor. (The exception to this is if I’m looking down the barrel of one of those aforementioned deadlines. Then I abandon my family and take refuge at a coffee shop somewhere.)


Pumpkin. Hands down.

4 Responses to “Various thoughts that were thought while slightly fevered”

  1. 1 Terri-Lynne
    December 2, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Oh, you wrote a book? Well, I could do that too, but I’m just SO busy with Other Important Stuff that I don’t have time to show you how easy it is to do what you’ve done.

    Those people drive me nuts. But there really is no response to make. Nod and grin. It’s never worth getting tweaky over. It also drives me nuts when someone asks, “Are you still writing?” and after I tell them, “Yes, I am,” they say, “And you’re still not published?”

    It’s too much to tell them, yes, I’ve been published but not paid and no, I’ve not sold a novel yet despite my YEARS of writing, because I wasn’t writing stuff worthy of selling back when I first started, and publishing isn’t as easy as wishing even though I feel like my stuff IS ready.

    Again, that nod and grin comes in handy.

    Pumpkin?? Really? How does that top a chocolate cream pie? Or even keylime? 🙂

  2. December 2, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Yeah, it’s damn near impossible to explain what a horrible slog it is to get published (and paid for it!) And then even when you do get published (and you will!) you’ll then face the people who are convinced that you are now a) Rich and b) Set For Life as a Writer. Oh, the reality…

    Hmm… I will admit that good Key Lime Pie is a slice of heaven. But when Key Lime pie is not good it is very bad. And it’s tough to go wrong with pumpkin!

  3. 3 Terri-Lynne
    December 2, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Ew–you’re right about bad keylime being very bad indeed. Bleh. Ok, pumpkin over keylime, but NOT over chocolate cream! 🙂

    People have misconceptions about all sorts of things when it comes to work and the compensation for it. It takes years of work to see a book from page one to a bound copy on the bookstore shelves; and take into consideration that there are few writers who will even make $150K on a single book to earn a modest $50K a year, I think it’s safe to say that being a writer will never make one rich.

    (Thanks for the vote of confidence. It means a lot to me.)

  4. December 2, 2009 at 11:29 am

    My sister in law makes a combination pumpkin and pecan pie that is OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!

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