The Disciplined Writer

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I’m laughing at the title I chose. It took me close to four hours just to start transcribing my notes for this post.

Fighting for Inspiration And Making Good Use of Time

I’m dying laughing.

I fear I will look back on the past five months or so and wonder why I didn’t spend those rather boring evenings, those eventless weekends writing.

You had all the time in the world and all you did was click from the Twitter tab, to the WordPress tab, to YouTube, throw in Facebook on occasion, Spotify and lots of Taylor Swift, your darn phone that you checked every twenty five minutes. You could have been writing bestsellers!

This last winter was a sort of glory times. I was in school and in between my 60-paged thesis on international human resource management in nonprofit organizations, I wrote well over 100,000 words. This included an easy win of NaNoWriMo 2013, additional chapters to The Resolution, and the first rough draft of Hidden People. I used every free minute for writing. My laptop went everywhere with me. I could write anywhere – in the train, tram, subway; waiting for the train, tram, subway; in class; in the library before, after, and during research for the aforementioned thesis; in, on, and under (okay, maybe not) my bed; by the Christmas tree. Everywhere. I could puke 1,000+ words in thirty minutes. In every free moment my mind had, I was brewing ideas, going over dialogue, making plans. I was obsessed; and okay, maybe my thesis didn’t turn out that great because of it all, but I had a ton of fun.

Then all that came to a screeching halt.

For known and unknown reasons, I was suddenly stuck and I went for days at a time without writing. My characters finally abandoned me after deciding I wasn’t coming back. My obsessive behavior shifted and for the longest time, my projects hardly crossed my mind. I say this to my utmost shame.

After regaining perspective (let’s call it that), I decided I needed to keep it up – keep my writing up. All along, I was still rather involved in the writing community, but if I wanted to be part of it, I had to be a writer. I had to write.

Slowly but surely, I am getting back into it. I try to write something every day no matter what it is (okay, emails and chatting do not count), but my longterm goal and focus is my project Hidden People. I want to be serious about it. That is the question. How serious am I? It’s a decision we all have to make. It’s a commitment (I see you all cringing at that). And commitments require work. And work requires a plan.

Do you have a plan to work out your commitment?

Have a goal.

I want to be a published author. (That is very scary thing to say. I dare you to.)

Set deadlines.

  1. Finish current draft by October 1, 2014. (Erm, this are all hypothetical deadlines used as an example, yes?)
  2. Revise draft by November 15, 2014.
  3. Beta-reads complete by Christmas. (I give gifts.)
  4. Use January to implant and/or consider suggested changes.

Do thorough research.

Hey, I thought I finished my thesis? 

Whether you want to go traditional or indie, do your homework and become a publishing expert. Invest time in finding the right method for you. Carefully choose potential agents and learn how to write a query. Get smart.

Market yourself.

This is still sounding a whole lot like business school.

Before you have a story to sell, you have yourself. Get to know your potential readers and even better, open up to them and let them see you. Show them what you can (or can’t) do on your blog, for example. Tada! Help them out and share things you’ve learned. Giving is very rewarding.

I love the personal connections to writers and let’s face it, word of mouth is effective because it is so personal. Please don’t tweet ads for your book every hour – or even day. It won’t make people like you and it probably won’t help you sell your books.

Write, write, write.

And don’t give up. The writing world knows no traffic signs. Sometimes you don’t know when you’ve turned into a dead-end, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop and settle there — unless that’s where Chris Hemsworth lives. Then it’s okay.

Discipline is the key. You can’t get anywhere without hard work, but don’t equate hard work with misery. Have fun and live your dream.

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