It sounds like bragging to say that I published 6 books in one year, so I don’t often say it in real life. Obviously, I’ve blogged about it as the year went along, and tweeted and posted on Facebook. But I almost never go up to total strangers and say, “Hey, guess what? I published 6 books in 10 months!” Because that would be tacky, at the very least.
I have not kept that pace in 2013, although I am on track to publish 4 in this calendar year, and that ain’t bad. I’m having some logistical (not story) problems getting Darian’s War finished, but I know that I write best when I write fast, so I’m not worried about it. I gave myself a generous deadline, knowing that I had 2 international trips (this first one, which started 8/7, requiring a TON of planning and preparation) in August and September. November might see me sweating a little, but I’ll be ready.
But here’s what people ask me all the time: How did you write so much so fast? How did you keep the momentum going?
I’d like to say I have a magic bullet (AKA easy answer), but I don’t. Not really. One answer is that I am a somewhat obsessive personality. I am a project person, as I’ve written about several times on this blog. When I start a project, no matter how small (and they never stay small), I am obsessed about getting it done, and quickly. It’s why NaNoWriMo works so great for me – writing a novel (not just 50,000 words) in 30 days or less is seriously speaking my language. I did 5 NaNo events in a row, and won them all. It’s just how my brain works.
But now, I’m not relying on NaNo to finish my books, mostly because the camps were inconvenient for me. I actually write better with that schedule, but this year was crazy (3 international trips, 2 graduations, 1 wedding, 4 books), and I know I need to cut myself some slack. For instance, after my daughter’s wedding, my brain was just fried. If I had tried to write, you wouldn’t have wanted to read it! So this is where real life meets ideal life, and we tend to lose momentum.
So how do I keep it going? Well, several ways. First, I book with my production team ahead of time. I absolutely HATE to change my dates once I’m scheduled. I’ve had to, and it was not fatal, but it was close. I hate it. I feel like I’m inconveniencing not only all the great folks at Streetlight Graphics, but also whatever other authors are getting moved around because I didn’t have my act together. If people-pleasing is a good motivator for you, I strongly recommend this method. Book with your editor, your cover artist, your formatter, even your beta readers. Then stick with it.
Another way is to start telling your fans when the book will be released. I’ve had people email me, Tweet me, and Facebook me: “WHEN is the last book coming out???” So I say November. Guess what? Barring some really terrible life happening, that book will be out in November. I need all the fans I can get, and I’m not going to be untruthful if I can help it!
Finally, tell everyone you know. Post your daily word count on Facebook and Twitter. Blog about it. Make it public. This works for dieting, and it works for deadlines, too. Peer pressure can be a wonderful thing, if harnessed properly. We should always look at ourselves askance if we find that we are hiding our progress and our goal. That usually means we’re not making progress and haven’t set a goal. Just sayin’.
Writing every day is a treat, a blessing, and, to quote Mr. Monk, a curse. Some days we’d all rather clean toilets. Twice. So sometimes we need a little external pressure to say to us, “Get a grip – this is a JOB, not just a hobby. Write, no matter what you feel like.” And amazingly enough, that usually works!
I discovered when reading the first draft of my first novel, Solomon’s Throne, that I couldn’t tell the difference between the days writing flowed from my fingers faster than they could type the keys and the days every 200 words seemed like an epic struggle. In the end, I just wrote. With a migraine, waiting for my son at practice, when I was so tired I didn’t think I could come up with one semi-original word. And in the end, it was all the same. Really, that’s momentum. Taking a play from Nike’s book: JUST DO IT!