A Weekend of Reading

I read two books this past weekend, which cut in to a lot of potential writing time. That said, I do not regret taking my mini reading vacation one bit. Since I’ve become a pseudo-grown-up, I’ve felt like I just never read enough. Besides, the books I’ve been reading (volumes 6 and 7 of the Dresden Files) are very absorbing. I do have to say, though, that I wish Harry Dresden would stop being such a sucker for the dames.

As for the writing… Well, it’s picking up. The manuscript keeps on shrinking, but I’ve decided to write some additional scenes that explore my main character’s background a bit more—and help complicate the plot a bit. The expected time to completion is… well, a long way off, but I’m actually really excited about the new scenes. There were a few weeks when working on the book felt like an uphill slog.

On a slightly related note, I’ve started a tumblr. I’m planning on using it as an electronic commonplace book. It’s someplace where I can start collecting things—pictures, music, quotes—that might be useful for writing projects. A sort of writing scrapbook, except I prefer the history around the term commonplace book.

Writing While Walking

Okay, I don’t literally write while walking. I’m fairly certain I’d bump into something if I tried doing that. (I’m also pretty good at bumping into things anyway).

I’ve found, though, that sometimes doing non-writing related activities—cleaning, showering, walking—helps me figure out where to go with a story or character when I do sit down to write. While I probably don’t need to do much more showering, doing a bit more walking or other exercise might not hurt, and I hear it has benefits that are unrelated to writing.

Oh, and as a follow up to last week’s post, I’ve found a more apt analogy than the 10,000 hours one for writers: the million words.

Wednesday Writing Update: The Pep-Talk to Myself

The thing about writing a book is that it takes a lot of time—especially for me. I first really put my nose to the grindstone on this book in June or July of 2010. It’s now 15 months later, and I’m struggling through a major rewrite. I think part of what’s discouraging me is that I’m doing what may be the one thing you’re really not supposed to do: compare yourself to other writers.

So this is where I attempt to give myself a pep talk. Here goes:

A lot of the remarkably short time periods I saw were for first drafts. My first draft took about 11 months. Overall, that’s not too horrendous. I know that authors who are under contract can only have four to six months to write a complete first draft, and that scares me. My hope, however, is that by the time I’m in a position to have to do that, I’ll have learned enough about writing to be able to do that. I’m guessing part of that is skill, part is confidence, and part is just good-old-fashioned butt-in-chair and hands-at-keyboard.

Okay, it’s mostly butt-in-chair and hands-at-keyboard.

Anyway, right now I’m rewriting. There’s a lot of stuff I’m keeping from my first and second drafts, but I also threw out a lot and am adding a lot and a lot of stuff is getting moved around. This is not just line editing. That’s going to take some time, especially since I also need to do a bit of research on some things. I think, however, that all this repotting—most of that strikes me as being repotting—has actually taught me a lot about plot, which brings me to my next point….

I’ve learned a lot in the process of writing this book, and I’m probably going to learn even more as I work on the rewrite. I’m sure I’ll be learning things about writing as well as about what I’m writing about—and those things will eventually help me write faster and better the first time around.

Malcolm Gladwell has said that you have to put in 10,000 hours to become really good at something. I’m not sure if he came up with it or someone else did, and I don’t think anyone has objectively tested that number… but there’s a certain amount of sense to it.

I guess there’s nothing to do but keep going.