I’m sure like a lot of people over the winter months (please say it isn’t just me) I’ve put on a few pounds. So as ever, when January comes around, I start cutting back.
It’s not a great deal of excess. But like most people, because I don’t feel good about myself, I start comfort eating, saying I have no willpower rather than looking at it for what it is.
I keep thinking I have a ton of weight to lose. I think I’ll have to exercise more and really it’s too much like hard work. But if I break it down and lose 1lb per week, all of a sudden it becomes doable.
Now this is a simple analogy, and I hope I haven’t offended anyone by using it, but when it comes to it, writing is all about taking baby steps and planning, and keeping at it.
Writing a book is often compared to a marathon and not a sprint. And then, it’s not just about writing one book. It’s writing book after book after book and selling them, and the backlist too if you want to make this a career.
For most of 2018, I felt as if I was forever writing but not actually publishing anything. The fact is I was working on the books that were coming out late last year and this year.
Even for me, so many books down the line, it’s hard to stay motivated when I see other authors with their work out and yet I’m still in development with mine. I’m sure they often feel the same. We all have times of feast and famine, so to speak.
So it’s great to have a book recently published and to be getting excited about the next one due out in May. And for the past two weeks, I’ve had my head down drafting out a new book, as well as working on Project X. I’m thoroughly enjoying getting some words down.
I wanted to touch on how long it took me to get a publishing deal. I had twelve years of rejection before I self-published my first novel, TAUNTING THE DEAD.
But that was the fifth novel I wrote. Back when I started trying to get a book deal, the Kindle wasn’t even in existence, so it was the traditional route or nothing. In late 2011, I self-published and my career took off from there.
What I’ve done over so many books is hone my craft. Each book, I hope, gets a little better, and a little easier to write as I learn how to plan, plot and motivate myself to get the words down.
I wrote on Monday that I aim for a first draft of 50,000 words in a month and I had a few emails asking how I write so many words. Firstly, this is my full-time profession and if I can’t manage approximately 1600 words a day for a month, then it’s time to sack myself.
But also, that is exactly how I do it. I break it down and by writing every day, it keeps the story flowing in my mind. I think it tricks my mind into feeling positive that it’s getting done, and that it is achievable.
I don’t work to a rigid outline as I find a lot of twists and extra sub-plots come out during this writing. But I stick to it rigidly, even when I don’t feel like it and have a ton of work to do besides.
A runner will run one mile, two miles, three miles etc. He or she will build up to doing more. They will strengthen their muscles, use their willpower to push themselves to do a little every day, to get better day by day. So why do we think we should be able to write the best thing ever in one sitting, one first draft? Give yourself a break – literally. Break it down into bite size chunks. Take baby steps.
I never used to like the old adage of write every day, but I do believe it works when you are drafting out a book. A little each day adds up. One step at a time. And even if you wrote 250 words a day this year, you would have a book by the end of 2019.
If you want to write a book, then you have to start. That’s by far the hardest thing about writing. No excuses about having no time, no ideas, no writing space (yes, I’ve used them all.)
If you keep on keeping on, one page at a time, one chapter at a time, then your hard work will pay off. I never expected to be where I am today. I used to look at all the authors who were published before me and dream to be like them. So it is possible. You just have to believe in yourself, and put the work in.
Next week, I’ll be talking about how a piece of advice an agent gave me – become a book detective – helped me to figure out what to write. But for now, best of luck with the word counts. And the diets…