Ben Mann, second-place winner of this year's Writers of the Future contest, brought up how he's tackling a novel on Curiously Strange:
Still, when I decided to write a 140K first draft the biggest problem facing me was the very notion of committing to it. How could I sit down and write so much when I got so burnt out last year writing less?Okay, that's true, but it's a lot easier said than done -- isn't it? Sure, I can clear a few minutes here and there to scribble, but I never have enough free time to do some serious writerly work. Well, about a day after Ben's counsel went up, James Maxey (Dragonforge) posted on Jawbone of an Ass in an attempt to dissuade me and everyone else of that notion:
Well, on the one hand, the situation is different: we grow as writers, and certain aspects of the craft are getting easier. I'm probably a bit better at outlining plot than I was. And all that blood, sweat and tears chopping and reworking my horrendous WotF draft was a surefire way to teach some much needed lessons in craft. Plus, I decided on a rate of work which was designed to avoid the burnout problem ...
But mostly, I stopped trying to find the time to write.
Finding it implied it was already there.
I changed tactic, rearranged my schedule and made the time to write.
I've given a lot of advice on how to be a writer over the years, but today I'm going to give my absolute top bit of advice on how not to be a writer. All you need is one single thought, a basic assumption that you build your future on. That single dangerous thought is this: When I'm a writer, I'll finally have time to write.Point taken, sir. I'd comment more, but -- hey -- I have some writing to do.
I used to firmly believe this. When I was in my late twenties and early thirties, I had a job I hated, and I told myself I could be a writer if only I had the time. So, I paid off all my debts, saved a little money, and quit my day job. And, I did write… some. A little. I tried to find the discipline to write every day, but, looking back, even though I was without a day job for the better part of a year, very little of the writing I did during that time amounted to anything. I made a few story sales to markets that paid in copies. Eventually, the money ran out, and I went back to work. ...
If you're waiting until you have the time to be a writer to start writing, I pity the unborn characters and worlds within you. If the thought "when I am a writer" ever enters your thoughts, get rid of it. Shoot it, bludgeon it, cut it out; employ the violent metaphor of your choice to remove that phrase, because it's utterly poisonous, the most dark and wicked viper crawling around in your skull. The thought you need is "always I am a writer." And then you should $#%&ing write something, you procrastinating fool.
(Picture: CC 2005 by Naccarato)