Why would you waste your time writing the wrong story?
On the subject of multiple drafts: drafting and re-drafting should not be confused with EDITING (which is a very valuable and necessary process). I define drafts as rewriting the same story in its entirety over from start to end. I spend a significant portion of time thinking about my story so that when I sit down to write I know what needs to be written and how it needs to be written, where form is as clear in my head as content. I could maybe understand writing a second draft for one or two books in a catalog of a dozen. But I cannot fathom why I would do this for every book.
If you aren’t writing the correct story STOP WASTING YOUR TIME WRITING THAT GARBAGE and go back to the drawing board.
I don’t care that Hemingway said you should write 30 drafts of something. I think that if you NEED to write 30 drafts some something, there is a fundamental problem with your process such that maybe you should spend a little more time thinking about your story before you sit down to write it. But then again, I’m not a fan of wasting my own time.
Have you noticed I’ve been trying to write more regularly here? 😉
Today I want to talk about something I hope will prompt some reader responses. I hang out on a couple author forums (notably Kboards) just to see what other people are trying because I’m curious what has and hasn’t worked for them.
Write A Series
I hear this advice given all the time. I’ve HEARD this advice given since I was a kid. If you want to make some money, write a series. It’s not new advice.
In 2014 Write A Serial
THIS seems to be the new tweak to the above adage. If you want to make money, write a SERIAL, and it seems like everyone is doing it!
Okay, but you’re thinking to yourself, technically serials aren’t a new thing–they’re a pretty old thing. Serials are how ACD, Dickens, Poe and a bunch of other authors were published back in their day. True–but I think we can make a distinction between the sort of serials that Poe was publishing and the sort i’m talking about now. Namely, that Poe’s serials were part of a larger work–e.g. a newspaper–and today’s serials are stand alone ebooks.
So, I see people advising other writers to write a serial–readers love them! they say–but this advice always comes with the caveat that these same serials always attract low-star reviews. Specifically low-star reviews from readers complaining about the length of the work.
This brings me to the DISCONNECT I’m seeing between readers and authors. Authors say serials are great, readers love them, they make them lots of money, etc. But then you have a huge chunk of readers unhappy because of the length of the serial and the fact that it is NOT a full story (obvs, it’s part of a larger body of work, it’s a piece, hence serial).
What’s the break even point here? Do readers actually love serials or are they just buying them because that’s how authors keep breaking up otherwise great stories and thereby deluding authors into thinking the serials are doing great because hey, their sales numbers are still good, even though the whole format is leaving the reader cold?
And on a related note, going back to my first point which is GO WRITE A SERIES, this bit of advice is usually coupled with: be sure and use a cliffhanger so that your readers have something to look forward to in the next book. With this, however, I see some unhappiness cropping up over cliffhangers. Are they good? Are they bad? Are they something readers suffer through because they enjoy the story?
What are your thoughts? Do you like serials? Do you hate them? Do you think serials belong as independent ebook entities or does the format really work best as a larger body of work?
You’ve heard the cliche: everyone thinks that they can be a writer. Or that writing a book can’t be that difficult. But anyone who has tried to write a book will probably disagree.
Writing is hard, except when it’s easy, and even then it’s still pretty hard.
For me, writing this month has been slow but steady. Book 3 is chugging along at 15k words right now (hopefully 16k by the time you read this). Definitely not where I wanted to see my word count but it’s a start. Every book begins with a start. And then you have to keep building and adding onto it, until you finish it. For most of us, myself included, this means writing a book is a marathon and not a sprint. It can be hard to keep that in my head.
I want to be a full time writer now. I want to bang out a novel every month or every other month now, but I’m not there yet. At most, I’m a halftime writer. I write fairly consistently but not 40 hrs a week–which is where I would ultimately like to be.
3 Stages Of Being An Author
- Beginner: you’re working on your first story, or maybe your second story, writing when you can but not overly consistently
- Amatuer: maybe you write consistently but you don’t write a ton, you’re averaging a book a year
- Full time: you write multiple books a year, you put in 40 hours a week, you treat writing as your full time job.
A lot of people spend a long time at stage 1. I spent four years at stage 1 calling myself a “writer” but not managing to finish anything. It took me 18 months to write Duality and about 8 months to write the sequel, The Convergence Theory. I thought by the time I would start Book 3 I would be at stage 3 already but I’ve discovered that I’m really still at stage 2: writing more consistently but not putting in enough hours to call this my full time job.
That’s OK. I don’t have to be at stage 3 right this minute. Maybe I won’t get to stage 3 for a couple more years and a couple more books. That’s fine. The important part is that, just like when I’m writing a book, I add onto my writing habits a little more and a little more.
I’m not going to start busting out 10k words a day this week. Or next month. I’m not going to reach my 85k word draft goal by May 1st but I will make it by June first, which is a huge improvement over TCT’s timeline.
Just some thoughts to chew on if you’re feeling discouraged.
- Set goals and meet them, but if you aren’t going to meet one, don’t become so discouraged that you give up or ignore the deadline altogether
- Have patience, both with your work and yourself
- Increase your time commitment, word goals, and publishing milestones steadily–remember the tortoise
- For 75% of authors, making a living is all about building a backlist (eg 10+ published titles), building a backlist takes time
- Even though this is a marathon, don’t hesitate to do tiny sprints here and there to encourage yourself
- Don’t stop writing.
Do as I advise, not as I do. Trust me, I’m not good at always taking my own advise no matter how good it is. That’s another reason I’m still only at stage 2 😉
I’m opening the floor this week to questions about my books (Duality as well as the unpublished sequels), as well as timestamp requests (something you wanted to see more of from the first story or what came after? Give me a prompt and I’ll write you at least 500 words. This is open to pre-story events, porn, and secondary characters as well). Least a comment below or hit me up with an email 🙂