Saturday, October 01, 2005

When does it get easier?

When I was a newbie writer, I really thought by the time I'd sold a dozen books, writing would be easier. Now here I am, 43 sold books later, and writing is not only not easier, it's harder! When I was that newbie, I couldn't wait to get home from my day job so I could get back to my WIP (work in progress, for the uninitiated). I could hardly stand the time it took to change clothes and say hello to my hubby before I hit the spare bedroom where my writing alcove had been set up. I did five drafts of my first book in less than four months. Nowadays I'd rather do just about anything than sit at my desk and try writing. I'd even rather clean the bathroom, and that's saying something. I procrastinate and agonize until I get to the point that if I don't hurry up and write something, anything, there's no way the book will be on time. So of course, the last month or six weeks before my deadline, I'm crazy and stressed and I make everyone else around me crazy and stressed. What's wrong with me?


Alfie said...

Okay, Pat. You depressed me. You mean this isn't going to get easier?

Alfie said...

LOL, Alfie. I didn't mean to depress you. I was just looking for some company. You know -- misery loves company!

Cheryl Bolen said...

Pat, I think the fact you've sold 43 books is making it a "job" and few of us -- to be perfectly honest -- really love going to our jobs.
For me, I'm still like you were in the beginning. I go to the gym first thing every morning, and I can't wait to get home and dig into my story. But I've only sold 8 novels. I still love it.
Of course, because I'm not as successful as you, I always give myself a nice vacation from work after I turn in a new book. It's fun then not to "work" but before long I'm chompin' at the bit to get started on a new book.
I can think of very little that's more exciting than starting a new book. Of course, by the time I reach Page 100, the thrill is totally gone and I'm convinced I'll never be able to complete the rest of the book! Are some of you like this?
I suspect, Pat, because of your success you don't give yourself a lot of time away from writing -- though I know you take some wonderful trips. I'm so jealous of anyone whose husband is retired (but not jealous of the heart surgery your hubby had to undergo).

Gloria Harchar said...

Well, darn, Pat. I was hoping for easier since I'm only on my fifth book . . . .
But I can kinda see what you mean because books seem to be getting harder for me as I write more. I don't know if it's because I realize I'm out there for the world to read and I'm spazzing out to make my books even better than the one before, or what is going on! I know since being published I feel more pressure to write better and better. At this rate I'll be comatose by the time I write my 43rd book! :) ~Gloria

Nancy Morse said...

If there's something wrong with you, Pat, then I've got it too. After 20+ years in this business, it hasn't gotten easier. Some days I'll find any excuse not to write...can't write if the house isn't clean, if my legs aren't shaved, if the dog needs extra play time. Am I jaded? Probably. The problem is, I'm miserable when I'm not writing. Go figure.

Sharon Schulze said...

Nancy and Pat, count me as another writer with the same method, if you want to call it that. It's frustrating--and totally offends the engineering part of my brain that says writing is just like any other job. If you need to write 350 pages and you've got X number of days, it _ought_ to be a simple matter of doing a set number of pages/day. I tend to start a book very slowly, then pick up speed as I go along in the manuscript until I'm writing as fast as I can get the words onto the page.

Obviously the engineer part of my brain has yet to meet the writer part :-). At this point, I'm trying to accept that this is the way my mind/creativity works, and stop beating myself up about it.

I do love writing; my biggest problem is getting my butt into the chair to actually _write_. Once I'm there and get sucked into the story, I'm fine, but I sometimes find myself doing things I really dislike (such as doing dishes or cleaning) as an avoidance of starting.

To resolve that problem I've adopted a habit that probably sounds silly and childish, but it works for me. I use a timer. I have to sit at my computer for 15 or 20 minutes at a time, and I can't do _anything_ else (i.e., no email, Mahjong, etc.) but write while I'm sitting there. Gets me going fairly quickly--my version of a time-out chair, I guess. Once I start, I'm barely aware of time passing until the timer beeps. It definitely focusses my mind onto my work; it's become a part of my writing routine. Put a cd in the cd player, light a candle, set my timer . . .

One good thing about the timer is that it reminds me, every few sessions, to get up and move around. Once I'm sucked into the story, I sometimes forget about doing that.

Ok, now you know my secret :-). Don't know if it would work for anyone else, though.

Geez, this is long--looks like I'm warmed up to get to work!