The Dog Days Of Writing

I’ll admit it: I’ve been in a writing slump lately. The novel I’m currently working on should have been finished seven months ago. I only have one chapter left to edit, yet I haven’t touched it in two weeks. I’ve been discouraged with the results of my first novel, The Earth Bleeds Red. I think the book came out great and my publisher did a good job editing it and designing an eye-catching cover, but…

There’s always a but.

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The Earth Bleeds Red

Marketing has left everything to be desired. I’ve gotten burnt out by doing all of the marketing myself and stopped doing any marketing a few months ago. After I did, sales slowed and then slowed some more. My first book, which I self-published 3 and a half years ago, is outselling the new one and I haven’t marketed it in longer than I can remember. I pushed it hard for the first year and it has outsold the new one by leaps and bounds.

The truth is that I’m working 70+ hours a week with a business I started last August. It has grown at a tremendous rate and I absolutely love it.

Name Brand Thrift
NameBrandThrift.com

 

I’m also finishing up my degree at Oregon State and will graduate in December after taking my final three classes in the Fall.

I will have more time to write this Summer when I’m not in school and as the new year approaches with school winding down. My passion for writing has not waned but sometimes, we all need a break. With my new novel, I’ll be querying lit agents and wait patiently for the right situation. Oh yeah, did I mention that I’m married with four kids? Life is rather busy 🙂

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How to Start Writing

I often get asked by friends and fellow writers: How do you come up with an idea for a story?

While there are many ways of doing this, I’m going to share what works for me. Many times, I like to just sit down and write. I try to squeeze in times during the day, often only 10-30 minutes and write while I have available time. My main writing, however, is done at night.

I love the night because it is quiet. I’ll usually start around 9:30pm when everyone goes to bed and then write, off and on, till midnight. Some nights, I’ll write as late as 3 or 4am, depending on what type of groove I’m in. I’d realistically say that I write 2-3 hours per day with a minimum of 1 hour and a max of 5 hours.

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Regardless of how long you write, remember this: some writing is better than no writing.

If you can only spare 15 minutes, use that 15 minutes and know that every little bit adds up. It’s a lot like diet and exercise. Often, we don’t exercise as much as we’d like to but something is better than nothing.

I do like to write down big picture ideas for the novel I’m working on. I like having ideas to use as I’m writing and more times than not, what I initially wrote down changes from what I sit down and type. That’s okay, the important thing for me is that I have something to work from- a starting point. This helps me to not forget a good idea that may pop into my mind as well as think the overarching plot out in advance.

I also find it helpful to edit as I go. I’ll go over every chapter from the beginning after I finish each individual chapter. Then, I’ll go through every five chapters or so as a group so I make sure I’m keeping continuity. It also reminds me of the subtle details I inserted earlier and keeps things flowing nicely. Then, at the end, I go through the entire book 3-4 more times as a whole, taking time between each edit to let the book sit and breathe.

After all is said and done, it’s fair to say I’ve gone over the novel around 20 times. The most important thing you can do as a writer is to write. I’ve written so much crap that I’d be embarrassed for you to read it. Eventually, you’ll find what you were meant to write and then you’ll never stop.

Think, Do, Be: Positive

No matter what your profession might be, excellence should be your main goal. Some jobs can be difficult to muster the motivation to work hard but diligent work is the only thing that ultimately gets you ahead in life.

Yes, I agree that connections, timing, and luck all play a role but hard work will overshadow all of that. If I fail, it’s because I chose to fail. The only time I lose is when I quit. I am a determined individual and when I set my mind to something, I accomplish that thing or I give it all I have in my failure.

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Colin Powell said, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”

Think what you will of his politics, these words couldn’t be truer. I grew up in construction and know what it means to work hard. I’ve run my own cleaning business and lawn care business and understand physical labor. I write for anywhere from 2-6 hours each day and can relate to being mentally tired.

Whatever you want to do in life, keep working until you achieve your goal. Don’t let negative people get in your way and at the same time, take constructive criticism to heart. Use it to make yourself better and improve whatever it is that you’re doing. While you may not fully achieve your goal, you can at least know that you tried and gave it your all.

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So, be encouraged. Know that you’re not alone and there are more people out there just like you than you could ever imagine. There are other struggling writers and actors; business owners and students. Take comfort in the fact that people have been overcoming the odds stacked against them since the beginning of time.