Thursday, 1 May 2014

A million words in a year, one third in, and the key words...On Target

At the beginning of the year, I said I'd do a million words of new material in a single year in addition to the day job and the other jobs I've got (which include full responsibility for the roleplaying games at the largest UK games convention, organising another convention in its first year, arranging convention appearances, and arranging demonstration games for another games company.), and post up the words as I did them.

So this is the first of May, one third of a year down, the first novel of the year finished and up for everyone to read and a total of 330000 words into the challenge.

It hasn't been easy, there's a discipline involved in writing something every day, a discipline that I didn't have at the beginning of the year and even now I'm continually surprised that I'm getting the words in, but here's where I tell you it gets easier to write the more you do it.

Not entirely true.

It gets easier to write the things you've already written, and it gets easier to keep doing the things you were doing before.  The issue I had earlier in the year when I found myself a few thousand words down from where I should have been?  I'd been trying to write a scenario for something, and the scenario was so different from the stories I'd been doing that it stalled me completely and I lost nearly ten thousand words worth of work that I then had to make up.

Lessons Learned?

A lot of them to be honest.

What to write?

If you're not writing to brief and you're not having to do it to make your living every day, then you need to write what you want to write, don't pay any attention to anyone else, don't write the things that you think will sell, because by the time you've wrote them and made them some good (even writing at the pace I'm writing at), the market will have seen enough of it.  Publishers don't work by looking at something that just came out on the shelf, they knew about it months, sometimes years before it came out, they've had time to put the writers that work for them to the task and they already have a hundred things that imitate it.  Data sells books, and unless you're keeping an eye on the data, you're already months behind the trend, and if you're trying to write something you don't want to, then it'll take you twice as long and be half as good...

Don't try to be the copy of the next best seller, aim to be the best seller, write from your inspiration, not someone elses.

What if you fall behind on your word count?

Keep writing, don't stop writing because you had a bad day, especially if you had a bad day.  Anyone who's been reading the daily updates will see that this hasn't all been plain sailing, the whole point of it is to do more when you have the time and inclination to do it.

Must I do a set number of words a day?

Unless you're an idiot doing a ridiculous challenge like me?  Of course not, write what you can, it's not about how many words you write a day, it's about continuing to write.

I'm seeing that there's a continuous thread in these questions and answers, and yes, it boils down to one simple thing.

You must keep writing, nothing else matters, if you're not sure you can, stay with me, because I'm not sure I can, but I'm going to keep working at it and not give up, on that my word is given.

This is John Dodd in sunny (no not really) england, trying to get all the writers to write...