Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Putting myself to the test: A daily challenge

The technicalities of returning to a writing career after a long hiatus are a challenge with many facets.  There are the legal issues surrounding rights and copyrights and contracts.  There are the new technologies of digital publication via various platforms, each with its own quirks and requirements.  There is the non-writing creative aspect of cover art and style.  And there is the support and promotion system of advertising and networking.

All of these are crucial to the successful re-establishment of my career, but they have very little to do with my resurrection as a novelist.

What I must do, above all else, is obey the writer's ultimate rule.

from Writer’s Digest, Nov. 1983, pp 39.

The Ultimate Rule
by John Ashmead, Darrell Schweitzer and George Scithers

. . . Robert A. Heinlein, author of Stranger in a Strange Land, once put down a set of steps that say the same thing in a more organized way:
     1. You must write.
     2. You must finish what you write.
     3. You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.
     4. You must put it on the market.
     5. You must keep it in on the market until it is sold.

I generally have no difficulty with #1.  I write and I write a lot and I write almost every day.  Where I have the most difficulty is with finishing what I've started.

My daily writing is not always fiction.  In fact most of my output is email or comments on discussion boards and blogs.  For the major part of approximately 13 years, I have taken only the most tentative stabs at writing fiction.  All those tentative stabs, however, have been beginnings.  A great idea would pop into my head and I'd jot down an opening scene or a quick synopsis.  The interventions of life and the lingering demoralization from the edits from hell stymied me.  After a while, of course, the second of those two excuses became a self-fulfilling prophecy and a chronic disability.

Before I can work on parts 3, 4, and 5 of the Ultimate Rule, I have to deal with parts 1 and 2.  Especially 2.

And therein arises my self-imposed daily challenge: 1,000 words on the current novel, which I will refer to hereinafter at TSQ.  One thousand words, every day, seven days a week, no holidays, no week-ends off.  Sometimes life may intervene -- I do have a day job after all and sometimes it sucks up an enormous amount of time and mental energy -- but the goal has to be those thousand words.  Occasionally I've gone a bit past that, and that's good, too. 

They don't have to be the perfect words.  They don't have to be all the words.  Sometimes a scene comes to me as just the dialogue between two characters, and if that's all I write, without the tags and stage directions and reactions and thoughts, that's good too.  I can fill those in later.  It doesn't have to be perfect; it only has to be finished.

Today's goal is 5,967

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