In November 2011…I sat down and started seriously, consistently, writing again for the first time in nearly twenty years. Now, going on five years later, I’ve completed five full novels. The first I immediately trunked, the second got me my agent, the third and fourth will be my 2016 debut and its 2017 sequel (the Big Bend books), and the fifth is a stand-alone book I’m doing some final pass revisions on right now. I also already have a third Big Bend book plotted, and have been doing synopses for the next four books I want to write beyond that.
All these words I kept bottled up are now pouring out.
But if there’s a key to all this “sudden” productivity, it’s just one word: consistency. Come hell or high water, I write. I get the words down. Sickness, holidays, travel, work…you name it. I’ve trained and conditioned myself to beg, borrow, or steal the time to write. I don’t always hit my preferred word count, but I count at least a handful of words, each and every day. When people ask me how I got my book deal, I always give the same answer…I just wrote a book. It sounds smart-ass, maybe even flippant, but it’s not meant to be. I’m just trying to cut the process down to the thing that matters the most. Queries and contacts and conferences don’t matter if there’s no book at the center of it. You have to start writing the story, and then you have to complete the actual book.
It’s hard, true, but so are a lot of things. In some ways though, it’s also very easy. The overhead is low (a pen and some paper; maybe a laptop) and it can be done almost anywhere (desk, bed, bus stop). All it takes is time – a precious, disposable commodity to be sure – but one you do have some measure of control over. If I was given a word whenever someone uttered I could write a book if I just had the time, I’d never have to worry about my word count again.
I get it…this is easy advice to give. And there’s probably already a chorus of mutterings out there along the lines of: this clown doesn’t know anything about MY life. Let’s see him find the time to write if he had to deal with what I deal with every day. That’s a reasonable retort, and any and all writing advice (like this right here) should always be taken with a grain of salt. I only know what’s worked for me, so this is the only advice I can give. I’ve tried everything else at one point or another, and the only way I ever finished a book was to sit down and write the whole damn thing.
I’m excited and anxious about 2016. My first book, THE FAR EMPTY, will hit the shelves and I couldn’t be more nervous or proud. I’ve accomplished a lot in a relatively short amount of time. But what was I doing on the morning of January 01? Well, I was still sitting at my desk, plugging away, putting one more word after another.
It’s all I know how to do…