This is a re-post from a year ago…
There are a huge number of people in this world who’d like to write a book. More often than not when I tell someone that I write full time they’ll tell me about this great idea they had for this book but they never have time to sit down and write it. A lot of these people have demanding jobs or children or both. Some of them admit they lack the discipline. Others tell me they don’t know how to start. I keep the unsolicited advice to myself. If they want actual details about the self-publishing route I have a standard speech/email. The ones who want the details about the writing process itself I tend to steer to this blog and, assuming I see them more than once in my life, I’ll talk about this process somewhat. It’s helped a few people write short stories and that’s one heck of a start.
But life does happen. We can’t control it. As much as we may want to live in this fantasy world in our head where the characters do what we want we can’t. Sometimes we use it as an excuse. I know I did. “I just worked a 6 hour shift on my feet, I don’t want to think about this right now,” is a prime example. However, if we don’t eventually write (or type out, really) this fantasy world no one else will ever see it. When I’ve spent that much time crafting something in my mind – and I know it’s awesome because it’s mine, right? – I want other people to have the experience, too. Whether their experience matches mine or not matters not at all.
But life happens. We get into a new relationship and we want to solidify that. We got a new job and it’s kicking our butt. We just had a baby and I don’t think I need to say more after the baby one.
We get into a car accident and it messes us up a little bit.
I keep my chapters around 5000 words. Sometimes a little over or under. That’s the way of it. The length keeps them short for a quick read and gives the reader several spots to easily step away and not have to remember what was going on in the middle of a section. Chapter One of Liquid Gold is 4779 I believe and Chapter Two came out about the same. I divide those chapters as needed. Due to the formatting of Kindle I have started using 10 *s to show the splits. That’s something to keep in mind if you are writing with the intention of self-publishing through Amazon.
The sections are necessary, of course. I step away after completing each section to channel the next. That’s what had happened when I got into the car accident. I was approximately 500 words into Chapter 2 when I hit the black ice and my entire world changed in a pretty hardcore fashion.
It took me a month to be able to look at the manuscript. I mentioned in previous posts that I was causing a secondary/main character distress. I put that person in a car accident and I wrote that section a week before the accident. Sorry, I mention that in each post that mentions the crash but it still freaks me out. I promised my companion no more first hand research haha. The point being that I generally set myself a six month deadline. That encourages discipline. Especially when I start announcing the release date while I am still working on the last chapter. It adds pressure and a little bit of zip. Now I am off by a month. I’ll adjust but it just points out that life truly does happen.
After a certain point I was afraid to open the manuscript for fear of writer’s block. I hate saying/typing/thinking of those two words. It’s similar to asking for it and there’s no wood around me to knock on. I worried that I wouldn’t have the flow; that I wouldn’t be able to find the stream of the story.
I picked it up Saturday and cruised through it. Sunday I finished Chapter Two. Today I was looking it over and trying to see if my mindset had changed. I’m pleased to report it has not.
If there’s a story you want to write, if you are writing one and it’s driving you crazy that you haven’t finished it as of yet, don’t feel bad. Life happens. Creative writing is not something you can truly force BUT if you don’t attempt to push the boundaries of the discipline you may regret it. It’s a hard balance and often reminds me of the Serenity Prayer. Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Happy writing Java-Mates!