Writing Twenty Novels In Ten Easy Steps

Writing Twenty Novels In Ten Easy Steps



During a​ recent telephone conversation,​ I mentioned having sent off the​ last revisions for my twentieth novel,​ “Great Sky Woman.” There was a​ silence on​ the​ other side of​ the​ phone,​ followed by the​ question “How in​ the​ world do you do that? Twenty novels!”

The truth is​ that I know many writers who have written far more than twenty novels. it​ is​ not that unusual. in​ fact,​ if​ you are a​ working writer,​ the​ “perfect” output is​ very close to​ a​ book a​ year. Less often than this,​ and the​ readers stop anticipating your next book,​ and wander to​ another writer’s literary pasture.

There is​ a​ commonality to​ the​ behavior patterns of​ successful writers,​ and a​ commonality to​ the​ behavior patterns of​ writers who just can’t get started,​ can’t get finished,​ or​ stall out at​ their first or​ third book.

Successful,​ prolific writers:

1) Write every day. That’s EVERY day. They sit down,​ open their veins,​ and bleed into their computers. Yes,​ it​ can be painful,​ but if​ you don’t maintain this kind of​ regularity,​ rust creeps in. the​ connection between heart,​ mind and fingers is​ broken. And we​ mistake the​ struggle for our natural state.

2) Read every day. Reading is​ priming the​ pump. it​ is​ modeling successful behavior. it​ is​ increasing vocabulary,​ studying plot and characterization,​ and entertaining the​ little subconscious demons and angels who actually do the​ deep work. Never neglect this.

3) Set deadlines and quotas. There is​ a​ certain amount of​ work to​ be done,​ on​ a​ daily basis. it​ need not be some huge amount—a page a​ day will create a​ book a​ year!

4) Create a​ writing space,​ a​ place that feels comfortable to​ them. This is​ both a​ physical space (a desk) and a​ psychological space (created with music,​ posters,​ familiar objects,​ etc.) it​ may also be a​ temporal space—a specific time of​ day or​ night that they write.

5) Have specific goals. They have committed to​ being professional writers. This is​ how they define themselves,​ and they never forget it. if​ you accept this definition,​ then you MUST behave as​ a​ professional writer,​ on​ a​ daily basis,​ or​ it​ causes emotional discomfort. They are willing to​ accept this friendly prod.

6) Don't listen to​ the​ negative voices in​ their heads. Everyone has them. the​ voices tell you you can’t,​ you mustn’t,​ it​ isn’t good enough. You must find a​ way to​ tell the​ voices to​ shut up,​ to​ ignore them,​ or​ to​ quiet them. Any flow-based activity will help here: meditation,​ Tai Chi,​ yoga,​ running,​ Sufi breathing exercises,​ martial arts…the list is​ endless. Find one.

7) Are committed to​ the​ long-term. They know that if​ they spend an​ hour or​ three a​ day,​ every day,​ for a​ decade,​ they will build their career.

8) Expose themselves to​ criticism and rejection. in​ other words,​ they FINISH their projects,​ and then SUBMIT those finished projects to​ editors and agents.

9) Involve other people in​ their “master mind” group. Successful writers know other writers. And readers. And editors. And agents. They befriend them,​ recruit them,​ get feedback from them,​ and listen to​ the​ feedback. This is​ their “brain trust.” Unsuccessful writers hide in​ their offices,​ never finish their work,​ never send it​ out to​ risk rejection.

10) Have W.I.T.---they will do Whatever it​ Takes to​ ethically reach their dreams,​ to​ become the​ best they can be. They never quit. They know that success is​ based less on​ talent or​ “who you know” than persistence,​ hard work,​ and honesty.

There are more distinctions,​ but I’m out of​ time—got to​ start working on​ book twenty-one!




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