Leaning to write

So this morning, while I should have been editing Linear Shift, Part 2, I decided to practice my nearly perfected skill set of procrastination and surf a bit of the internet. I follow a number of authors on Facebook, as well as read their blogs. One of those happens to be Hugh Howey. He is like my virtual guide to authorship. His inspiring story is enough to convince anyone they can write. It certainly convinced me.

Anyway, while on his blog this morning, I read a post from him where he answers a fans email. She had asked him how he learned to write. His response was once again inspiring. I wish I would have asked that same question years ago, but I had to stumble on it all on my own just this year.

Until earlier this year, I had dreamed of writing a great novel. And with every attempt, the story would move along fairly swiftly in the beginning. Then, a few hours/days/weeks into the process, I would end up writing myself into a corner. Not knowing precisely how to get out of that corner, I would abandon the story and lose interest in writing all together for a few weeks/months. Every time though, I would find a spark to get me back to writing, and each spark was different. My most recent spark was actually meeting Hugh back in March. He didn’t give me the road map to getting published. He just inspired by simply existing.

From that latest spark, I read/re-read through a number of books on writing. Some of them spoke to me, some did not. Around July, I decided to actually set a goal to shoot for. That was to be published by my birthday. I’ve wrote about it before, so I wont go into it now. What I did next was devise a way to meet my goal. When I work on a project, either on my house or at work, I break down the project into bite size chunks. If I were to remodel my bathroom (again?)I would start with demo. After the clean slate, I would add new plumbing, then new drywall, then new tile, then new paint, and so on. I would break each phase up into small chunks. I took the same approach to writing, and it seems to work.

First off, I use to hate outlining. I felt that by outlining, I was fixed on how or where the story would go. I have since changed my stance on the outline. I know where the story will start, and I sort of know where the story would end. In between, I knew stuff would happen. I simply took the stuff I knew about and set them up on index cards. That gave me the base for my rough outline. I would fill in the voids until I felt I would have a story, with a proper story arc that would be a complete novel. Once each of those index cards were laid out, I treated each index card as a short story. I could then write in much smaller chunks. In the end, I would weave them all together with minimal editing to make the entire novel feel more cohesive.

I first tried the process with Linear Shift, Part 1. I had a “target” word count of 11,000 words. I started out with 10 index cards and pretty much stayed on course through the entire process. My word count ended up a bit higher, at around 13,000. All in all, I felt the process worked out great.

In Linear Shift, Part 2, I had a target word count of 26,000 words, and started with 17 index cards. At the end of my first draft, I was at 32,500 words, and I had dropped an index card. I was able to write the entire draft in 30 days. I spent a few days going through the first bought of editing with my buddy Kyle. Word count had dropped to 30,700. That is where it sits right now, but I am about to embark on the final editing. By breaking the entire process down to bite size chunks, I was able to write through the blockage that was stopping me all those years.

Now, all I need to do is get people to know my book(s) are out there! Since Linear Shift, Part 1 was released in September, sales have been a little slow. November was the worst at 8 total sales. Hopefully December will be better. I’ve got a number of promotions coming up, and hopefully one of them will catch the eye of someone important enough to give me a nod somehow. That would be great, and that wish sits on top of my Christmas List!

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