Thursday, September 29, 2011

Benchmarked or Benched?

I've been crazy busy running around, trying to get stuff done or set up before I leave for RomantiCon (yay! I get to hug Regina again!). You see, while I'm away, my ex is coming here and staying with my my house. I have to hide stuff because he's very nosy. I've already informed the daughters that he's not staying in my room (that man will never get into my bed for any reason. Just sayin'.). And in the midst of all the "Oh my gosh, I can't forget to do that or go there" drama, it occurred to me how much things have changed in my writing over the  years.

Once upon a time, I was a baby infant writer. Back before publication was a reality, I joined all the writing groups local and national. I went to nearby conferences and loaded up on seminar tapes from those conferences. I listened to them in my car everywhere I went. Our meetings encouraged writing goals, often with monetary incentives and public kudos. They told you what you should write, what the market wanted, what was selling, how to build a story, and always seemed to get mired in one inch margins and double spacing.

There was one tape I listened to. I can't remember who the speaker was, but I arrived at my destination where we were family reunioning, and I sat in the car, cranked up the volume, and took notes. I rewound and played until I'd heard her suggestions at least three times. She'd said that she wrote fast. That often she'd write at least one thousand words a day which meant completing nearly four books a year. I remember shaking my head and thinking, is she crazy? Who writes that much? I can barely keep up with 100 words a day. And really, I only did that because there was another lady in the group who rubbed me the wrong way and she kept bragging about her 100 words a day success (I've never wanted to punch someone more in my life. Dark side of Mia. Sorry). I couldn't imagine that kind of time or focus.

Now for you non-writerly types, 1k = one thousand words. Assuming you followed that one inch margin, double space thing, 1k averages out to 4 typed pages. That means that eight page essay that high school and/or college assigned to for you to finish in a semester, was 2k. That audio tape writer advised writing at least four pages a day. I was barely writing half a page. I thought she was insane.

But she also said, it took practice. That if you never wrote any words, you'd never build a familiarity with your storytelling and personal speed. She was right. I'm now at the point where I have one or two titles releasing every month. No, I don't write a bunch of long books, I write novellas and shorts (with one exception coming out in Dec from Siren: Staking Their Claim), but I still average about 20k a story. Multiply by four and you see that's 80 pages.

I've come a long way, baby. To tie into that first paragraph up there, and the reason this sparked the memory, is because I currently have 11k on a book that's due as soon as I finish it. I want another 9k. I also have to supershorts to write each needing another 4k. I have to prepare, pack, clean, and do a day job, and I have to drive to, attend, and return from a conference. And you know what I'm thinking? I'm thinking I can actually do all that and turn it in by Tuesday evening next week. That means finding time to write 17k, or 68 pages of writing (I know, because I pulled out my calculator. I'm a writer, not a mathmatician. Don't judge me.).

And I think about that writer who made me scoff in disbelief and I go, "Huh. You know what? She was right. It does take practice."

So, if you're out there with a story in your head, thinking you'll never have the ability or patience to put it on paper or the ability and patience to see it through a plot into a happy ending? Guess what? It took me four years of self-doubt to write a single eight page scene before I realized I should just shut up and do it. Stop editing, reediting, correcting, and polishing those eight and get on with the bloody book. Once I decided that, it only took another six months to finish a 100k story WHILE I worked a full time job, raised two babies, and picked up after a messy guy. It's possible. I didn't even type fast. Mostly I daydreamed about, "What happens next?" and then I wrote it when I had the chance.

It took another two years before that book was published and suddenly I realized that I wanted to do it again, but faster.

If you have a dream, pursue it. If you have a goal, reach it. If you have a dream, dream it to reality. If you have fear, you aren't alone. We all hold each other's hands in this world, so take mine. Take the hand of anyone on this blog and know that what you're waiting to achieve can't be achieved until you take that first step. You can do it.



Unknown said...

Very motivating. Now I feel like I MUST write. It's only been two (more likely four) months since I put words to page. I must say I'm creeped out about the ex staying at your house though. Hope it goes well.

Harlie Williams said...

Thanks for the motivation Mia. I've signed up for NaNoWriMo and have started putting everything else on the backburner and finishing up stuff so that the month of November, all I will do is write.

Have fun at RomantiCon. Travel safe.

Jen B. said...

Perhaps someday all of the crazy ideas in my head will make it out onto paper. I am always amazed that writers manage to put together the words. Have fun at Romanticon! And may your ex grow hideous purple spots and an inch in a place where the sun don't shine if he gets nosy whilst at your house!

Mia Watts said...

@Amber, It went. It was better once he went AWAY. :) Glad I motivated you. Sometimes it helps to pep-talk yourself in public. LOL.

Mia Watts said...

@Harlie, You're welcome! RomantiCon was a blast. I had a lot of fun there and got to have some one on one quality visit time with Brynn Paulin.

Mia Watts said...

@Jen B, Definitely! If you have a story, write it. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't. Messages like that come from people who haven't even tried to write. So who do you listen too, a proven failure or an inner voice of hope?