I recorded my 3rd episode of Walks & Talks where I give an update on my writing and talk about imposter syndrome.
It’s release day! Into the Storm is officially out! We have a ten episode season one planned for you, all available on Kindle Unlimited.
Odd number episodes follow my MC Jakobe and even number episodes follow Lauren’s MC Lexa.
It’s been a fun experiencing co-authoring for the first time, I hope it’s even more fun for you all to read.
My writing stresses me out. It’s not that I think I’m a bad writer. I know I’m not at the ability of my daydream self. Daydream Ari is able to write a masterpiece in an afternoon with words so powerful they can launch a rocket to Mars, dig up water, sprout life into a vacuum, and cure cancer.
It’s just that, I finish a rough draft under the guise of, it’s okay if it’s shit because that’s what editing is for, but then the editing starts and I’m just staring at this 300 page document thinking “what have I done?”
There’s always good writing in it. That’s not because I’m a good writer it’s just simple statistics. Anyone who can read and write is capable of saying something smart if they have 70,000 words to play with. The problem is, I’m often left asking two questions (depending on the book I’m working on):
1) Where the hell is the plot?
2) why do these characters suck?
Okay, there’s a chance there’s a third question that’s some combination of the previous 2 but I just bury those manuscripts deep in my desktop folders for future Ari to deal with–future Ari has gotta be way smarter than me after all.
The problem I’m dealing with now comes from two manuscripts. Both are about 250 pages, both lack that emotional punch. It’s impressive how unemotional they are actually I mean one deals with assisted suicide and euthanasia in a fantasy setting (it’s disguised as a medical option but it’s really a non-mortal experience on another plane of existence) and the other deals with a painter who is forced to return home and is haunted by his dead fiance.
Both lack backstory, which I can’t weave in without flashbacks, and I’m nervous the flashbacks I put in during edits are too abrupt–like la di da here’s your story then BAM! Flashback boulder drops from the sky and you have to walk all the way around it to get back to the plot.
I mean–I guess what sucks is these are clearly supposed to be emotional stories with deep themes–I guess–and they more often than not leave me asking “so what?” while I’m reading them. I can’t publish them because I don’t feel like punishing people for buying my book lol.
I’m just in a bit of a rut I guess. Part of me wants to work on new projects but I know that’s crazy since I have these old projects to work on. I also know if I can’t edit these old projects what’s the point in working on something new because it’s just going to end up in my edit folders one day and will never be touched again.
So I’m working on these two projects–I’m hoping I find results.
I have another novella coming out October 17
I have two episodes of a serial I’m co-writing with Lauren Lee coming out September 4th with a new episode released monthly.
It would be a nice win if I could put out my first full length novel soon.
Okay, so truth be told I am pretty mediocre at keeping my new year’s resolutions. Maybe not mediocre. . . more like amazing with the small stuff and unreliable with the rest. I did manage to dedicate more time this year than 2016 to writing, unfortunately, editing had to take a back seat. Though I managed to write 4 (well finishing the 4th) first drafts for different manuscripts this year, the only thing I was able to polish to any degree was a 40k novella released in August.
If 2017 was the year of writing, 2018 will be the year of re-writing. I’m saying it here so I don’t have the opportunity to forget, or at least not the same opportunity to forget since this blog did not exist a year ago.
Once I finish the current WIP I am working on, my primary focus will be to re-writing three of the four drafts I popped out this year. My mammoth, a futuristic satire in a world where automation has replaced everything but celebrity, and the currency is influence (or reach), will take me the longest. I plan on taking the sort of time NFL teams are supposed to take in developing rookie quarterbacks because of all the stories I’ve produced recently, it’s the one I am most proud of. It may take a long time to shine, but I know there’s something great in it.
As for the other books, one is in need of MAJOR re-writes as I changed the occupation of the main character, and the conclusion (which of course means everything leading to the conclusion needs to change). This one being the Absolute, which is about a painter’s strange relationship with God. The main plot follows his time painting a mural for the new chapel in his hometown.
The third book I plan to get to has a working title of The Pathetic Tycoon and it’s a rather violent tale between an old-time criminal and a young rival with a legitimate business he inherited from his parents.
It should be a fun year. . . well a stressful as re-writing tends to be. What I don’t like about re-writing is you don’t get the same satisfaction of goals like you do on a rough draft. I mean knocking out a word count goal offers instant gratification. Re-writing is much more macro, and you don’t really see the results until you reach the end. At least for me, rough drafts are more about “wow look what I’ve done,” while re-writes are more about “wow look how much I have left.”
I know it’s a lot of hard work, but as Stephen King put it “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”
Like most authors, I try to remain disciplined with daily word count goals when it comes to completing a rough draft. The goal always being to throw as much story as I can on to the canvas and to worry about making it pretty later on. I learned this strategy from Stephen King’s On Writing memoir, and an anecdote by an old teacher who had Harry Turtledove as an advisor. Apparently Turtledove has a gnome figure above his computer with two signs on it: Edit and Write. This serves as a reminder to him to not look back until he finishes the rough draft so he has enough momentum to finish.
For the longest time I struggled to consistently break out of the 1000-1200 word a day routine. There were times I successfully challenged myself to do so, but it yielded similar results to crash dieting. A brilliant short-term return with no long-term results.
No matter what tricks I tried, real life would always kick my average back down to my plateau. Now I would like to say there is absolutely nothing wrong with only writing 1000-1200 words a day. The reason it was a problem for me was entirely personal happiness.
I knew I wanted to produce more output, and I knew I could not continue the same routine I was doing and expect different results (thanks Einstein). That’s when I read a quote by Elbert Hubbard saying “Positive anything is better than negative nothing.”
It’s true. Just because you can’t reach your goal at a particular moment that day, doesn’t mean you can’t make progress towards it. I used to make the mistake of only giving myself a block of time to write. I would sit at my kitchen table during my designated block of time, knock out my daily minimum (listed above) feel fatigued and call it day.
I figured if a single designated block of time wouldn’t yield the results I was looking for, maybe unstructured, multiple sittings would.
The results were more than I was hoping for.
Originally I wanted to get to the point where I consistently wrote 2000 words a day. At that pace, I could have a decent length draft (60k+) done in a month.
What ended up happening was three or four sittings a day, resulting in 2500-4000 words.
Why this turn around? A number of reasons. One being fatigue. I never reached the point of being tired while writing. I would knock out as much as I could in the morning before going to class, knock out a little more after class, and then do one or two sittings in the evening.
The second reason being I never felt like I was working. Before when I wrote in one long block of time I felt like I had to see results or else I failed. By spreading it out throughout the day I accepted there would be times the words fly onto the page and times I struggled, but no matter what I was moving towards my goal. It also created an almost insatiable desire to keep writing. Before I looked forward to finishing my designated writing time, but now if I only give myself a small taste of writing, I find myself thinking about where I need to take the story next and can’t wait to get back to my computer to keep writing.
Finally, I realized I used to underestimate how long ten minutes was. I say ten minutes, because a number of times I would get my writing done in the ten-fifteen minute slot before class started.
The average person writes 40 words per minute (since I’ve spent so much of my life at a keyboard I have the luxury of typing faster). This means in a ten minute period they could write 400 words (+ or – the time it takes to think about the plot). For me, I was able to crank out around 500-600 words in these ten-minute slots, making a decent dent in my daily goal. When I finally arrived home after class, to the time previously designated to writing, I’d already be at 1000 words, making the goal much more achievable.
This may not work for everyone, but do not sell yourself short. You can do a lot more in those short moments of freedom throughout the day. Before I started this routine, I used to think “I only have ten minutes, I’ll write later.” Don’t fall into the trap. Even if you can only write 200 words (shoot even if you can only write 50) in that time, it’s still more than you would have without it.