This is a somewhat personal post, in that I am going to give myself a mid-year review of my writing progress and accomplishments.
Since January, Kitchen Khemist and Lazy Lawyer have both taken me about three months each to get into draft format. This is a bit longer than I planned, since my goal was to get each book drafted in about two months, allowing me to publish six books a year. I am not meeting that target.
Part of the problem was that I started sloughing off, particularly in January, when I discovered a whole slew of television programs I had missed out on years earlier. I finally realized that the people who tell you to “write every day!” are the ones who fail to do it. Okay, maybe the ones who do write every day also tell you that. But I’ve seen way too many zero word days on my progress tracker.
Another part of the problem is that I took too long to work out the plot structure of Lazy Lawyer. When I write a story, I usually have a pretty good overview of how the story will progress. The challenge is to get all the clues, conflicts, missteps, and plot twists built into the story structure. That often takes detailed planning, character by character, day by day, and even hour by hour. Normally I get all this detail worked out before I have finished the draft of Act 1.
This time, with Lazy Lawyer, I was delving deep into Act 2 before I got all the details right.
What are the practical implications of that? Going back over the first twenty or thirty scenes and plugging up the holes.
My advice, based on this learning experience is, if you’re a pantser like me, sit down and work out the details early on!
The second thing I’ve been doing is tracking my sales. Geesh, what a frustrating endeavor! I would check all my sales channels with increasing dismay as day after day passed with narry a sale. Then, suddenly, four or five sales in one day! The emotional ups and downs can be pretty intense for someone as emotionally high-strung as I am.
My advice: check your sales once a month, not every day. (I also have advice on getting help with marketing, but that’s another day’s blog.)
Third, I’ve been trying to downsize my personal life-style. I am a collector, most of books, but also of maps, postcards, coins, frogs and elephants, and inspirational wall plaques. The result is way too much clutter in a rather small apartment. The solution is obvious. Sell more books so I can get a bigger apartment. But if I am only writing four books a year instead of six, I’m not going to sell as many books. That’s when I check my sales, discover that I’m not even selling the books I’ve already written, and so, to console myself, I start watching all those television shows I missed out on years earlier.
Opps! Chicago Fire is on. I’ll be back later…