I am new to the world of published writers, with my first book, Solomon’s Throne, just appearing in print and ebook in mid-July, so this isn’t an article about marketing – I’m new, I’m an introvert, I’m not in advertising, don’t ask me!
However, what I have done is complete three novels, a screenplay, a non-fiction book and start another novel in 14 months. Respectively, so you know they’re really novels, the word counts are:
- Solomon’s Throne – 89,000
- The Hoard of the Doges (before final edit) – 88,000
- Undaunted Love – 89,000
- Freedom – 53,000
- Laid Waste (screenplay) – 130 pages
That’s a lot of words! And a lot of people have started asking me, “How did you do it?” I have a friend who’s been trying to write a memoir for some time, and she asks me just about every month. I have another friend, who has much younger children than I, who says I’m a “word machine”. It seems to be a mystery along the same lines as the Loch Ness Monster and “where’s the beef?”
I would love to write a 50,000 word book with all the secrets. I really would. And since I am a firm believer in self-publishing it, I’d like to get a great cover and sell it as the end-all be-all of writing secrets. But honestly, there’s only one. So that would be a short book. Nike says it most succinctly: Just do it.
Here’s a visual of the same thing –
Seriously. This is it. Kind of disappointing that there’s no magic bullet, no foolproof plan, that the secret is *gag* discipline. Sucks, doesn’t it?
I’ve talked before about my personal process, which wouldn’t work for everyone. I am not the 1000 words a day (or 2000 words a day, like Stephen King), every day, without fail, kind of writer. One of the guys in my writing group took four years on a book. Honestly – and this is the God’s honest truth – if I had to make writing a book take four years, I would never, ever finish it.
I don’t think I’m ADD, but I am a project person. I can focus intensely for a short amount of time and do a really good job at whatever I’m doing. But then I’m done. I am terrible at on-going things like laundry and cleaning and exercise and taking supplements. After a few days, it’s not that I intentionally give up, I just…forget. Literally. I’ll go on with life and a few months later will have a head-slap moment where I remember what I was doing and never finished. (Perhaps this is some sort of long-range ADD?!)
So for me, writing an entire first draft in a month (a la NaNoWriMo) is perfect. Writing an entire first draft in a year is a death sentence for my story. What do I do when I’m not writing? Well, I think. I stare off into space a lot (OK, not really, but I do a lot of thinking on stories when I’m driving or walking). I read weird books like “World History for Dummies” and obscure reference books and write down the random facts that interest me. I edit (yuck). I don’t think about it at all, sometimes.
But when I’m writing, I write. Not necessarily every day out of 30, but most, until I’m done with that first draft. And there is no other secret, no matter if you’re a project person like me, or a disciplined, daily writer like the guy in my writers group. Neither of us would finish if we didn’t do the one thing that would seem self explanatory for a writer. WRITE.
So just do it! (Thanks, Nike!) If you want to be a writer, it involves that one little thing that changes you from a daydreamer to an author. Writing. There’s literally no substitute.