I finished my last novel in July of this year. Like most typical writers, I decided to celebrate the achievement by laying back, basking in the afterglow of my pride, and just breathe in the awesomeness. But something weird happened when I did that.
I found it – and am still finding it – very difficult to get going on a new book. Or story, however long it might end up.
Oh, sure, I’ve started a few. But I’m not making any real headway on any of them, and the writing has come in splashes and sputters. I still don’t have anything solid. I have no real solid ideas either. I have lots of outlines laying around doing nothing, and I started to work on one of those stories, but it just didn’t reach escape velocity for me.
Changing to another story and starting down that path didn’t work either. True, it’s a story I’ve written before. But I came up with some killer backstory to flesh that bad boy out, and make it a stronger story overall, not to mention tying it in to the last novel and the next one in the series. And yet…no spark. No hum. No rumbling buzz in the back of my head to create, write, get it done. No images or pictures, no mini-movies, no candy bar scenes…nothing.
So, to combat the malaise I’ve been feeling about writing lately, I decided to invest in some learning. I picked up a NaNoWriMo book bundle from StoryBundle, and I’ve chewed through some of those. I also picked up a couple of free fiction pieces from the ‘Zon and tried to get through those, but…eh. Nothing left me inspired.
As a last resort, I turned to my main auth0r-mentor source, Dean Wesley Smith, and his lecture series of offerings. I registered for a couple of them – one about motivation, and one about paying the price and getting the mindset of a professional writer.
The first one offered me some ideas on how I can get myself into the chair for my BIC time, and stay there. Lots of good tips and tricks, but it didn’t really address where I was or what I felt. Then I watched the second series, and found that, while there’s a lot of good info there, some of it I simply can’t do, and most of the rest I already know. So a couple of misses there for me.
Don’t get me wrong, they were great to hear. It’s nice to know there’s a set of things one can do – and they’re only ideas, you can come up with any motivational method that works for yourself – to stay motivated to write. But the greater value came in knowing there are a couple of “drop-off points” writers encounter along their journey where some will move past and keep going, but a large number of writers will “drop off” and never be heard from again.
Well, there’s a cliff after one book, and there’s another after five or so, up until about ten. Once that threshold’s crossed, the writer is likely to be a career writer.
The question is, how long does that take? I have a writer bud who’s pumped out like 12 novels, but none are published. Does that count? Hm.
So, anyway, I’ve finished five over the course of my writing life, but two of those don’t count. Of the three that do count, only one has been published. I guess time will show, but holy smoke, how am I going to get to ten before I die?
So, to close that gap and try and figure out how to do storytelling better, instead of writing better. I’m going to have to try something else. I have to figure out what that something else is first though. And I have no idea how to do that yet.
The next step in this appears to be not shooting blindly and spending money like water. But I have to spend money. The learning is critical, and I can’t be taken seriously as a writer if I can’t progress. Learning never stops; and I am determined to move to the next stage of my career.
I will keep you faithful readers apprised of my progress.
One thought on “Moving Up the Learning Curve”
I think it’s something akin to, “if you build it they will come.” Ideas, I mean. Sometimes – and this is just IMO – you just have to write even when you don’t feel inspired. Like with the tech books you did. Perhaps if you gave yourself a deadline for your fiction that might help. Inspiration will come and go, but fingers on keys can be done whether inspiration is there or not.
You’re absolutely right on the inspiration. That’s one of the reasons I have so much doubt about whether I’m a “writer” – writers don’t seem to come up short on those things. Ideas come to them. DWS can write stories every single day. No shortage of novel ideas either. Other guys pump out 1MM+ words a year. But I can’t manage more than one book every four years. So there’s doubt. But writing shouldn’t be that way for writers. That’s one of the “fears” I have right now. No shame in being a hobbyist, though. *Shrug* Time will show, right?