Category Archives: procrastination

500 Words

Following the publication of my novel, Daughter of Atlas, I’ve started working on a new project.  It is a solarpunk novella for a shared world anthology, with a couple friends.  I have been working on it pretty consistently, and I feel pretty good about it.

I write 500 words a day.

I’ve always struggled with writing consistently.  Indeed, I stopped writing at all for almost ten years.  I was feeling too burned out and beaten down.  So I know I won’t ever be able to make a paying career out of this, but that’s okay. I’ve started again, that’s the thing.

But even in my not-writingest periods, I’ve always known that you need to write every day to make a go of it.  And not just dicking around in your journal, either.  You need to write something that you hope or intend for people to read, every day, to produce work and to improve.

It is only now that I have come to do that. Write every day.  I want to now, like I didn’t want to before.  (The book The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield helped me understand my not-wanting, and confront it. I recommend it.) And the amount that I’m writing is 500 words.

So far, it’s working for me, because it’s such a small amount.  One page.  It is extremely hard to talk myself out of writing it.  It would be embarrassing. 500 words. Come on, man.  Embarrassing to not write it.  One page. Hard to rationalize blowing off a single page.  That’s the key, so far. That’s what’s working for me.

To be honest, I don’t write every day.  I write in the evenings, because I’m just not a morning person.  And I close at work one day a week, so I don’t get home until late. I usually don’t write then.  And my writer’s workshop is on Thursdays, and then I don’t get home until almost ten.  No writing then.

But I write most nights.  And every night that I do, I have 500 words more than I did the night before.  It’s good enough. Far better than all the many nights when I had no words. 300 nights of 500 words makes a novel. How do you eat an elephant?  One 500-word bite at a time.

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What To Write Next?

I’m wondering what course I should take next to advance my writing, hm, project? I can’t really call it a career, as I don’t work at it full time and it earns me little money.  Maybe one day.  But the question now is, which of the several things in front of me should I do?  Well, of course, I need to do them all, but which should I do first?  Which would most benefit me at this time?

Here they are:

  • Atlantis novel — publish.  My Atlantis novel is complete and I have done my own editing of it.  I’d say it’s on the fourth draft by now.  I would like to indie-publish it as an ebook, just to have done it.  It needs a copy-edit, a cover, formatting, etc.  This would be the obvious next step, but as written I find myself strangely afraid of it.
  • Write some short stories — selling the first Steve McCray story to Dirty Magick: New Orleans has interested me in writing short fiction again.  Urban fantasy was not previously my thing, but that story practically wrote itself.  I already have a second — no, a third! — one in the works.  And I have a few partial stories from before Katrina that I should complete.
  • Grandmother Theory for Baen Books — I have a hard science fiction story, “The Grandmother Theory,” that would be a good fit for the Baen Books Jim Baen Memorial Award.  It needs to be shortened slightly and could use a polish. The contest opens on October 1st.
  • Get back to Lion of the Dawn — I could get back into writing the first draft of my follow-on to my Atlantis novel, which I am calling The Lion of the Dawn for now.  This was my Nanowrimo effort two years ago and I’ve got about 60,000 words.  It has a LONG way to go, though.  Really epic.  I may split it up into two books in the end.
  • Prep for Nanowrimo — I could spend the next month getting ready to participate in National Novel Writing Month again this year.  Doing Nanowrimo is fun, it’s a special time, and it also gets easier each year — unless something happens like a bad bout of the flu, or your cat’s fatal illness, which are the things that have torpedoed my efforts in the past.  Also a lot of the local genre writer’s community does it every year, so there’s a good hangout scene during the month.  This could either be a continuation of The Lion of the Dawn, or a new effort.  These evening my husband gave me an idea for a Steve McCray novel.  I could write that.

Any of these would be good.  I should do them all, but in what order?

What, in your experience, would be your suggestion?  What should I write next?

UPDATE: I forgot that life has a way of often resolving these questions without your input.  I received an invitation to submit to an anthology with a two-month deadline.  So, that pushes the third Steve McCray story to the top of the list, because it would be a perfect fit for this anthology.  It is started but not yet completed.  Have to finish writing it.  So thus my dilemma is resolved.

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Fear

So I have a problem.  Fear of success I think it is.  My novel is complete, ready to be prepared for publication.  There’s no reason I couldn’t throw it up on Amazon as an e-book next week.  But I find myself procrastinating.  As much as I want to write, there is a part of me, equally as large — perhaps larger  — that doesn’t want to. After everything I’ve done, I’m scared to take that last step. Actually publish it.  I don’t really know why, but I am.

So I have conceived the idea of serializing my novel on one of those amateur writer websites, Wattpad or Jukepop or such, as an intermediate step between  … nothing …  and fully, publicly publishing..  It’s complete, so I would be able to upload chapters rapidly, and maintain interest among the readership.  I’ve long since given up any idea of earning a living by writing.  I just want people to read what I write. On one of these sites, I could get some feedback, have some interaction with the reading public, maybe get over some of my fear.  Gain some experience, however half-assed, at publishing and being in the public eye.

What would be better would be for me to bite the bullet, and just publish it.  But for whatever reason, I can’t bring myself to do this right now.  So, going the website route—would this be a productive recognition of my limitations and an attempt to work within them, or a bullshit, craven move that is really just procrastinating?

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