Friday, March 6, 2015

Always Be Writing

Always Be Closing Writing
Did you miss me? Life gets in the way sometimes…
I missed a blog post yesterday. I know. I know. A terrible travesty. I know there are so many of you hanging on my every word. This blog schedule is a bit aggressive. Monday through Friday post, leaving the weekend to post about sales and exciting new book releases. It’s all meant to be not only a helpful outlet to others in the self-publishing world, but also an exercise in control for me. Committing to a 300-500 word a day blog helps keep the words flowing, even if they may not be story words.
We’ve touched on that topic before. Just write. That’s what separates those that want to be writers from those that are. Not all words are story words. And not all words have to be. Sometimes just the act of writing needs to happen. Especially in times of a story block. Let that not be a reason to stop you from writing. When the words are not working in a story. Make sure you are writing something else. You do not have to write a blog. You can draw up character information sheets. You can write a journal about your day. You can work out some history on your book’s world. Anything really.  The sky is the limit. Set a goal word count. Something easy to keep, but that requires you to actually do it. 500 words a day is roughly 30 minutes of real writing. Doesn’t take long at all. Just, whatever you do, if you want to write, keep in practice. Dedicate yourself to the task.

I say this all to myself just as much as I am saying it to you, because I too have been in a story slump. Words have not flown as easily as I would like, but this blog, and the daily task of keeping up with posts, has helped me immensely. 

And just because I can't help myself... I'm applying this speech to my writing. (Language warning for those that need it)
Coffee Is for Closers  Authors!  
And I desperately want to be an closer  Author

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Finish that Novel (or Novella, or Short)

Finish that Novel (or Novella, or Short)…

So the unofficial theme this week seems to be along the lines of getting that first draft done quickly and efficiently. We talked about writing sprints. We talked about the old practice makes perfect adage. It all adds up to one thing: Butt in chair, and get writing.

I’ve had many people this week tell me, “Oh I would love to be published, but….” Ten guesses what that last bit is (and the first 9 don’t count.). Right… They haven’t found the time to finish a story.
That’s what holds back the many many dreamers. The idea of writing is a fantasy. They envision themselves almost romantically scrawling away with pen in hand under the light of a flickering candle. Writing the next great American novel and instantly finding publishing success. The truth just throws a cold bucket of water on those ideas.

The truth of the matter is this… Writing is a grind. A daily bleed of words on the page. To do it well takes time, dedication, and love. The romantic notions are far from the actual truth. Writers are often alone, staring into the blank abyss of an empty page, struggling to make it into something worth reading. And not everything written is worth reading. But we go on. We write more. We perfect what can be perfected. We delete thousands of beloved words that just don’t work. We push ourselves through sleeplessness, backaches from hunching over a keyboard or pad of paper, migraines from the computer screen, and the constant fear of being ridiculed for not being good enough when a reviewer finally does read our work.

That’s the real life of a writer. But, though it sounds terrible in that light. It is all worth it when you see the fruits of your labor come to light. Holding that printed and bound book in your hand for the first time… priceless. When a reviewer gushes over your characters and begs you for the next book. When an agent offers representation for your book. When you see that royalty check come in (even if it will only buy you a pack of gum.) Those are the moments that make it all worthwhile.

So, for those of you who haven’t run screaming in fear, and for my author friends silently nodding their head in agreement, I pose this challenge. Let’s stop talking and start writing. Finish whatever project you are on… as quickly as possible.

For the new writers: Make a goal. A daily word count goal. And achieve it.

For the old pros: Word sprints! How fast can you get 1k words.

Post results in the comments. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Writing - Speed vs. Quality. Does it have to be one or the other?

Not really sure of the answer myself, but after a conversation with another indie author, it is definitely a topic of concern.

It used to be quite commonplace for readers to patiently wait up to a year for their favorite authors next release. And I believe largely with the Traditional set, that is still the norm. But for Indies, it’s a game of grab their attention and hold on to it for dear life. That necessitates a quick to market release for most books. Even ones that are not series based. Always have something new to give your audience. It’s one of the reasons the Serial Novel is in vogue at the moment.

But, this is not new news. We’ve discussed before the need to get to market quickly with books. With thousands being published daily, readers are overwhelmed by choices and even popular authors have a hard time staying in the forefront of their minds.

The concern today is, are we sacrificing speed for quality? Can we have both? How?

It’s my belief that as we continue to write, we improve. Practice makes perfect is the old adage we grew up with, and it holds water. I can say without hesitation that in the last five years of publishing, my books increase in quality as I learn new tips and tricks to bring them to market. In the last ten years of serious writing, my stories themselves have deepened and characters grown. So that in itself says that quality can be achieved through experience.

Now, as for speed. That’s the hard part. Yes, writing sprints can help you belt out a first draft in record time, but even the most qualified of writers will still have layers of revisions to do. And I believe every book should go through a beta/proof reading process before final revisions and editing. So, the speed part might be out of the writer’s hands to some extent.

So if speed is a variable we have to consider, but quality is still key (as it should be), then what is the right amount of time to give each novel (or novella) from concept to publishing to fit with the “have to keep readers happy or fade into oblivion” marketplace?

I honestly don’t know the answer. But, for me, and a few other’s I’ve talked to, the ideal time frame for new materials is between 3-6months. Averaging about 3-4 new books (Novels or Novellas) per year.

But, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below. If you are a reader, how long is too long between books. If you’re an author, what’s your average timeframe for new releases?