Over the past six months I’ve learned a few things about myself, which I credit to this writing journey. Perhaps the most startling is the fact that I’m basically lazy when it comes to writing. If you give me a deadline of an hour, then I could write a 2k word article on the topic of your choice. If you gave me the same assignment, but a week to work on it, then I would wait until an hour before it was due to start on it. I don’t know why that is. I love writing. The creativity of the process is very satisfying. Most of the papers I wrote in college were all developed under a tight deadline. There were at least a hundred of them, and 99% of the time I made an ‘A’, and even graduated with a 3.98 GPA.
So what is it with this procrastination gene that seems to be rampant throughout my DNA? It’s not writer’s block – never that. I can’t remember a time that I couldn’t put my thoughts down on paper. When I first started on the adventure to write and publish a novel it became clear that I needed a schedule to follow. Otherwise, as much as I wanted to follow this dream, it would never get done. Work, family, and life in general would just continue without a writing schedule. But the hardest thing about a schedule is sticking to it. I found this out when several major projects for work came up. One in particular threw my schedule for a loop. The only time I had available to work on it was after hours before bed (my writing time).
The video project for work had many starting and stopping points, and in between I had five minutes to an hour or so to do other things. Writing was nearly useless. My writing time needs to be a consistent stretch, uninterrupted. Impossible to schedule with this project. As a result, what I did manage to write was crap. More on that in a minute.
The project lasted three months, and during that time I wrote in my head more than on the computer. I would love to say this was just an excuse for the crazy procrastination gene, but anyone would be hard pressed to work 70-80 hours a week and still find time to write. I did the best I could though. Between Jan-Mar I updated the site with 20 reviews, video logs and blog posts. The writing that really mattered is what suffered the most. Working on a book of short stories as well as the novel during this time became a bit overwhelming. It proved to be a valuable lesson.
Writing a fictional story is not like writing a blog post, article, or even a school paper. It’s an entirely new ball game. It requires a different level of thought. Personally, it required that I have a schedule etched in stone. There are authors like J.D Mader that can churn out a wonderful piece of fiction in ten minutes. The lazy part of me thinks that I have that skill, and can develop a story in an hour. The truth is quite different. I’m not at that level. Yet. Will I get there someday? Perhaps. But for now I stick to the schedule…as best as I can.
As I mentioned in the last Indies Unlimited article, I ended up throwing the novel out and starting over. It was crap. There were issues from the start, newbie mistakes that I couldn’t work around. I have the newly revised outline, a new schedule, and determination. I will get it done, even if I have to document my weekly progress as an incentive. The short stories I’m working on have fared much better than the novel. One in particular though seems to be growing legs of its own, and might actually turn out to be a novella. It’s at 13k words now and I’m not even half-way there yet. I think. With this one it’s hard to tell. I have a rough outline, but some of the scenes I thought would be rather short are turning into long chapters. We’ll see. I need to finish it first before I start editing. Great advice from Chris James by the way.
So, now you’re caught up on my writing journey. Hey, if it were easy then everyone would write a book. Oh, wait…