The Weight of Perfection

Is perfection a detriment? The fear of putting out something less than perfect leaves a lot of 80-90% projects on the sideline. Though we all strive for 100% in school, haven’t you ever received a B and thought “Oh thank God!”

I went to a writing conference in Pittsburgh where indie authors talked about launching their own publishing career without traditional publishing houses. To say these men and women have won the game is putting it lightly. They write full time, they travel the world, and they’ve reached a point where they don’t just have to write for the market. They can develop any passion project they want and their fanbase will thank them for it.

The advice that really stood out to me at this conference was don’t be paralyzed by perfection and there is no such thing as a kiss of death in this industry. Obviously what they meant by the latter is there’s no kiss of death based on product alone. If you write a bust you can recover. If a pen name loses an audience you can launch another. It always will take hard work but the worst thing you can do is not produce.

Does this advice work? Let’s think about it, have you ever seen someone put out content constantly? Some of it is garbage and others hit home? Have you seen a YouTube star blow up out of nowhere, then go to their channel and see they have videos going back years and the first videos look like they were filmed on their laptop’s camera.

It all comes down to branding. Trial and error, finding the right audience and making content for them. In writing there’s this strategy called the first 1000 fans (or something like that). I know to the casual hobbyist or to someone new to writing that may seem like an overwhelming number to achieve but once you get your feet wet and start making your first connections you realize just how attainable it is. Why is this number relevant? Because it turns your brand into a self-sufficient vehicle. If you have 1000 fans (not subscribers or followers but actual fans who love your work and share your content) then you have the best marketing team in the world at your fingertips, ready to come to your support with every tweet, product launch, or publication.

You can only start building this audience when you have content to share, and if you wait until your content is perfect you will not have enough. I’m not saying to go out there and purposefully put out trash, but I can tell you from personal experience that people resonate with effort and authenticity. If they feel you’re genuinely trying to help them, entertain them, or relay a specific message it will resonate with some people, and those people will be the start of your fan base.

Now, I’m no expert, I’m just an author documenting his own efforts and sharing his story with others in case they want to try but I can tell you though I am not at 1000 fans the numbers are growing. Since that Pittsburgh conference I released an 82 page novella. I would’ve probably come up with some excuse not to release it before that event. Maybe send it to a second editor for more input, or try and bulk up the word count to make it an even 100 then hold off on the release until I had a supplemental reading to attach to it and build up some universe, all the while delaying the production of all my other manuscripts. But I took the advice they gave me, made a cover on my own for free and released it. Since then my goodreads numbers have grown, my amazon ranking has gone up, my subscriber count on my newsletter has gone up, and I’ve had a little more change in my pocket (I even treated my girlfriend to food with the royalties). Again nothing substantial, but progress. Tangible progress and the sort of affirmation that makes me want to continue down this path.

So here’s a challenge to anyone reading this. Take a chance and put out something new. It doesn’t have to be a book; it could be an article on here, a video on Instagram, a new feature on a website or a youtube channel. Anything authentic that maybe you’ve been too nervous to try. You might be surprised by the response you get.

Simple Math Large Results

It’s funny how something so simple like basic arithmetic goes write over my head sometimes unless I’m looking right at the results. What I mean is, obviously writing every day has its perks, but writing a little more than you’re used to can yield major returns.

When I first started writing (late 2014 early 2015), I had a daily goal of 1000 words, not bad, and I would play with that sometimes going up to 1500 sometimes just settling for 1200. Anyway, I always wanted to hit 2000 so I finally started doing that and of course, the product finished sooner (twice the speed duh).

Then I bumped my daily word count goal up to 3k (where I currently am now) and of course, I finish books even faster cause DUH! The 32k novella I just wrote was completed in 10 days (the final day I wrote 5k).

These big chunks were easy to understand. I mean everyone knows writing 3000 words a day will hit a goal 3 times faster than writing 1000 words a day, but what if you started adding a couple hundred words to your daily word count goal. Nothing overwhelming, I’m talking next time you write and you hit your goal and 200 more words. What would that do for you?

Well, assuming you write daily that’s an extra 1400 words a week for possibly five-ten minutes more of writing.

I know this is pretty basic stuff, and almost insultingly simple to put down in a blog post, but I’m writing this because it’s one of those things that’s so simple I’ve completely overlooked it for so long. I’ve hit my goal and called it a day instead of putting in an extra ten minutes, which by the end of the month could earn me an extra 6000 words.

It’s why now I say my minimum is 3k but usually, I write 3100 or 3200 and the results are so obvious it’s cool. It’s fun to see how quickly you reach your goals just by adding an extra inch each day.

Anyway, thanks for reading!

Another Rough Draft Down

Well, it still needs a title but I just finished the rough draft of the project I started 10 days ago. It’s not long, in those 10 days I wrote close to 32,000 words, which translates to between 120-140 pages. It was a lot of fun to write though. I really love the story, I think the plot is pretty solid, the characters all have good motivations and overall I think it’s gonna be a fun read. I also have an idea in mind for a second book, which I think would be cool cause if it’s the same length I can package them together and have a full length 200-300 page book in two parts.

As for what I need to work on, well the ending is a little rushed. I know I can fix that in the edits but with the rough draft, I just wanted to get an ending on the page and worry about making it pretty later. It reached the point where it felt like the sooner I reach the end, the sooner I can start focusing on making it good instead of just prolonging it, cause no matter what it would need to go through multiple edits so might as well reach that stage a day earlier than planned.

I’m really excited to start editing it because I really feel like this story has a lot of opportunities. It’s a YA reaper tale. The main character and his best friend are 13 and his older sister is 15.

I think as far as characters are concerned his sister and best friend are the flattest. I need to give them more depth and development in the edits. I think their main guide is the richest character I wrote, the neighbor and the main villain are tied for second most in-depth and the MC is third most.

His parents probably should be improved in the edits too. At the moment they don’t even have names. At first, I did that purposefully cause I was thinking like Charlie Brown adults but I think it might just make the story weaker since they are a big part of the MC’s motivation to take the quest.

Anyway, I’m excited because my goals for the summer were to publish two novellas and one full-length novel. So far I’ve published one novella, I just finished the rough draft of my second novella, and the novel is written it just needs to go through severe edits. Since it’s only June 2nd I think I’m doing alright with my schedule.

Death Note

It took me long enough but I finally watched the series and WOW it was good! I’m sad it’s over though it makes me want to read the manga. The good news is there are plenty of other anime shows out there for me to sink my teeth into.

As for Death Note itself, I think it may have inspired me more than I first thought. I just opened my computer and outlined the first book of a voodoo doll series. Does the idea of a voodoo doll killer helping the investigation her own crimes interest anyone?

Please, your feedback is important! I wanna know what you wanna read!

That being said I am currently 15k into an MG reaper book. No clue how long it’s gonna be. If it’s only 20-25k I’ll probably turn it into a short series and box three stories together for a longer book.

4k today no stress

I know 4000 words are nothing to some people, but it’s a fair amount for me. These past three days now my numbers have all been over 3000 words, and it hasn’t felt particularly demanding.

Today was a day off for me so I obviously had more free time than usual but this technique has worked for me in the past even when I work full time or go to school.

It’s nothing new or groundbreaking, all I’m doing is focusing 100% of my attention on writing for short bursts of time then rewarding myself with a brief break. I’ve discovered one good way to time your breaks is to watch a show on Netflix (preferably one of the sub 30-minute shows).

Rather than trying to present this as polished advice it would probably be more beneficial to just write out my day so you all can see what I did and if it would work for you.

I started my day with a baseline word count to give me a bit of a cushion: 1000 words. From there I rewarded myself with a 22 minute break and watched an episode of Death Note.

I wrote 600 words following that episode and repeated until I reached 3200. I then gave myself a longer break to finish some errands, get out of the house, feel like an actual human and when I returned I knocked out the final 800.

The reason I liked this approach so much is it’s quantity focused not time focused. It doesn’t matter how long or short it takes me to write those 500 words, it’s the goal I set and the goal I have to reach. The break is then time driven because 22 minutes is enough to recharge, get some coffee, and let ideas percolate.

Why I think this idea worked so well is that I never fully exhausted my mind or my imagination. The ideas were still flowing when I took my break so writing didn’t feel like a chore, it was something I was chomping at the bits to get back to.

Anyway, I hope this helped.

Thanks for reading.

-R.K. Gold

Third Life is Done

Well, I finished all the edits on this 100 page novella and everything is going according to plan. 3 books published this summer is still a real possibility (yes I’m counting the end of May as summer cause it’s good enough for summer vacation). I just need to polish the blurb before I put it up for presale. Writing the blurb is SO ANNOYING my god. It feels like it took me less time to write my longest manuscript (apx 130k words) than to write this blurb. To those of you with blurb skills I respect you, I mean we’re supposed to honor short story writers but you’re the real champs.

I’m only letting my website and my newsletter know this, but Third Life will be on sale for $0.99 through presale and the three days it’s published but after that, it’s bumping up to full price.

Funny story about Third Life, I finally got the balls to write it because my author friend Lauren Lee needed a sprint buddy. She was working on her Charlotte’s Pact Series and needed a boost of momentum. My original thought for Third Life was a world where individuals had three hearts over their heads (like in video games) but they could lose lives for the most mundane tasks, like not cleaning their room, and the main character was going to search for a guru who found the key to eternity.

I kept the three lives idea but created a world of warfare between two tribes, one outside the walls fighting to return the bodies they borrowed from the world to the ground so the earth could find balance, and the other inside the walls fighting to maintain a lifestyle of strict discipline.

So I would like to thank Lauren Lee for getting me started on this book.

The rest of the summer will go as followed: Writing and editing a novella currently titled Big Boy and revising my full-length manuscript formerly titled the Absolute but now titled Skipping Over Sunday.

I’ll probably do writing sprints for Big Boy (definitely want a new title for that one, too similar to Little Big Boy by Max Power). So if anyone wants to do some writing sprints with me while I work on the rough draft please let me know.

As for Skipping Over Sunday, the story is done I just need to find a way to make it compelling cause at the moment I’m worried it’s too boring.

If all this goes according to plan I may even try vlogging. I have this idea where I’d vlog a pantser novel from beginning to end just to show anyone interested in writing a manuscript how attainable that goal is. I’m not saying it’ll be very good but the words will be on the page and from there you can choose to polish it, revise it, play frisbee with it, or burn it.

As usual thanks for reading! I look forward to writing more blog posts this summer. There’s something incredibly satisfying about writing and publishing something in the same day.

Summer Goals

By Tuesday I will be done with all my exams and final essays. Summer will finally be here and I will have more time to focus on writing and editing. My two main goals for the summer are release two novellas. Nothing substantial, each over 100 pages. Third Life is in its final edits and I’m hoping to publish it either the end of May or the start of June.

The second project I hope to publish this summer is a bit more whimsical. It’s a world where reapers create balance by not only guiding souls from one world to the next but also returning life to our world in the form of gardens.

This story is completely outlined and ready to go, I’ve just been waiting for exams to finish before I actually get started. I know it’s silly. In the time it takes me to write this blog I could’ve probably knocked out the first chapter, but for some reason, I enter full freakout mode if I start working on anything creative during finals week (and weekend). My time is divided between studying and recharging so I can get back to studying.

While my publishing plans are set I do have plans to continue editing The Absolute, however, I have changed the name to Skipping Over Sundays. I don’t know how a book that has gone through so many edits is a complete mess. Not even a mess, it’s just boring and I don’t think I explain the cool aspects of it at all so people who read it will end up being bored and confused, which is never a good combination. I really wanted the weight of his wife’s death to haunt him, and it’s just such a shitty representation of it. Also the ending drives me crazy cause it just all wraps up nicely and I dont think I–yeah doesn’t matter. I’ll just let it be for now. Probably send it off to a couple readers who can tell me exactly where the problems start. A fresh set of eyes will probably help.

I also plan on editing The Pathetic Tycoon especially now that I restructured it and deleted all the unnecessary points of view. It has become a cool rivalry between an old criminal and a young businessman.

My final project in the making is a MG series I plan on writing starring my new niece and all the adventures she is going to go on. I’m excited to take a crack at MG. I know there are a lot of amazing writers in the genre who produce phenomenal stories, and I’ll have my work cut out for me to find a voice in it, but I’m really excited because it’s a genre that’s more welcoming of the whimsical, and it’s something I really enjoy including in my writing because I don’t know, it just feels like a mason jar of happiness. Sorry this is such a bad ramble, I’ll end this post here, I just wanted to keep you all up to date on my upcoming plans.