Day Eleven – Taking Stock

Day Eleven.

That makes it sound like a day of importance, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, I cannot say it is any more important than any other day. It is a day like many others in which I will get up and go to work, deal with problems, come home, work some more, deal with things like dinner and socializing, and then go to bed not sure exactly what I accomplished of actual worth. And like every other day, I can choose not to do it that way.

Right now, I’m sitting here writing a blog post about a standard day. I summarized about what my standard day looks like. General enough. There are things I cannot change like ‘Go to Work’ for instance. I have to eat, there are bills to pay, going to work is an obvious answer to these things. However, I can almost decide whether or not I deal with problems. Many things I do are uneventful, something I find soothing. The few sparks of confusion and conflict I deal with can be dispatched in minutes, usually by listening to someone rant until they are satisfied they’ve been heard and then moving on with my day.

In case you’ve ever wondered what it’s like being a postal employee, take all the worst parts of retail and add a time limit.

When I say ‘Work Some More,’ one wonders about my vagueness. I’m a not full time writer. I produce fiction at the rate of a couple million words a year on average but I don’t make enough money to sustain not doing another job. And here is where I have the most power. I have a deadline (Apr. 1st) for Blades of Fate. However, I cannot edit for long periods of time without a break. I also cannot afford to solely focus on one project at a time as that is an inefficient use of the time I have. As it currently stands, I have approximately three hours a day in which I am not otherwise occupied by the vagaries of life. In those three hours, I must cram creating (blog posts, new fiction, mailing list senders, promotional materials) and editing (moving the novel toward completion).

As you have probably guessed, I need something that qualifies as a system. Working on that. Currently, I note down the number of words I produce and the number of hours per day I commit to working on the novel on a spreadsheet as a marker of consistent progress. What it has told me, through the number of days I have marked zero in the word count space, is that I am not consistently producing. This is a problem. Consumers cannot consume what you do not produce.

A little while ago, I discussed my feelings on rewriting and how it was something of a personal nemesis of mine. I thus sallied forth to make rewriting something I did naturally as if it were a necessary evil. Yesterday, I was browsing my Kindle (on my iPad) and came across “Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing” by Dean Wesley Smith. One of those sacred cows is: Writing must be rewritten in order to be good. (Check it out on his blog!) Imagine my surprise at this reminder, the book has been on my Kindle for at least a year and I’ve read it before, that my process doesn’t have to include extensive rewrites. In his own words, he is a three draft writer and from the first to the third things don’t change much, unless he has to scrap the story and start over in which case it takes him six drafts.

Kevin J. Anderson (a super prolific writer with a process I only just understand) outlines his process, which is a bit more involved (dictation/transcription/clean up editing), for writing at speed in “Million Dollar Productivity”. His thought, as a full-time author, a day when he doesn’t produce, he doesn’t eat. 

I like to eat. Not gonna lie.

Heinlein’s writing rules state you only edit when an editor asks you to. Working on getting submissions out to editors who might, maybe, ask me for a rewrite. (Dean Wesley Smith gives you all of Heinlein’s Rules in the above blog post.)

Perhaps this a moment for hybrid theory. Rewrites are not strictly speaking necessary, but okay if it doesn’t hinder the piece getting out to market with all speed. It takes me an hour or so to go through and proof a short story (depending on length), novels significantly longer.

So to put this into steps:

  1. Write 1st draft.
  2. Sweep (fix major obvious errors).
  3. Send to Beta.
  4. Sweep again (with help from Beta).
  5. Publish/Submit.

Simple enough to put on a postcard.

In case you were wondering what makes me think I’m a good enough writer that I can write a tight enough first draft not to have to do major revisions, I don’t, but I do know my writing well enough to know the more I fiddle with it, the worse it gets. Better to get it out of my hands before I do some major damage.

That said, Day Eleven. One more day marching toward a goal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *