I finished THE FIERY CITADEL, book two in my Forgotten Empires trilogy with St. Martins Press, sequel to THE ORCHID THRONE. Yeah, it doesn’t come out until 2020 – maybe summer? we don’t know – but I completed the first draft and sent it in to Editor Jennie. There will be more work to come, but that’s the big milestone to pass.
I promised myself this time that I’d take some time off before heading into the next project. More than the weekend. As a full-time author, I write five days a week, going for 3,000 – 3,500 words per day. It takes me an average of 3 – 4 hours to get that, with an overall elapsed time of about 6 hours, including breaks. I usually have a pretty tightly packed schedule, so finishing one book has meant diving right into the next. But I track my productivity pretty carefully – I can’t control my creative process, but I can learn all there is to know about it and plan accordingly (which is part of owning your process) – and I’ve discovered that the week after I finish writing a book draft tends to be unproductive.
Even when I schedule myself for my usual work week, the writing tends to feel like pulling teeth. My word counts are low, I screw around a lot, and I don’t really refill the well.
So this week I’ve been not writing. Yesterday I tackled the garage. We have this one corner with a built in workbench and set of shelves. When we moved in (lo, these ten years ago – sheesh), we stuffed a lot of stuff back in those shelves, especially the lower ones, and back in the deep corner where they form an L. The original plan was one side of the L (the long one) would be for David’s tools and the short side would be my garden bench. My husband, however, while possessing many sterling qualities, is almost pathologically incapable of organizing his stuff. So his workbench has been a mess since day one. In fact, it’s a more ancient mess than that, as he pretty much threw the existing mess of his workbench and garage stuff into bins when we moved and dumped it out here.
I keep a hammer and a few screwdrivers in my office, just so I can find them when I need one.
Not only is his workbench a nightmare, when he has no place to put anything – which is always – he’d stack it on my garden bench. It got so I couldn’t even get to my gardening stuff. So I ceded the field of battle. I moved the baker’s rack from our front patio around to the secret garden and put everything there that can safely weather outside. I’ve also pulled most everything out of that space – discovering numerous rodent nests in the process – and now I’ll organize it for him. I kept a lower shelf for my garden stuff that needs to be out of the weather, but otherwise my garden bench is now for his fishing supplies. I’m kind of excited to do the thing where you hang up the tools and draw Sharpie marker outlines to designate where they go. We’ll see if it works and how long that lasts…
Anyway, it’s been good to disengage my brain and simply lift and organize. I’ve been rearranging the patio and garden, too, and things are looking pretty. Plus, I found some cool garden ornaments I shoved back in that corner and forgot I had! Watch for pics of those as I get them put out.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! David and I are both from Irish families. You can see it in those smiling eyes, yes?
Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is “I don’t think so. Name a piece of writing advice you do not agree with and explain why.” Come on over for mine.
Our topic this week at the SFF Seven – one entirely appropriate for science fiction and fantasy authors – is “spending time on worldbuilding vs. actual drafting – what’s your balance?” Come on over to find out more.
I’ve been seeing some scuttlebutt scuttling ’bout the interwebz (which of course – besides porn – is what it’s for) about how access to advice from successful authors leads to a toxic environment. By this the posters mean that finding out when X gets up or how many words Y writes each day can lead to another writer feeling despondent at their failures to meet some sort of similar standard. The (semi)inevitable conclusion seems to be “don’t listen to them, you do you.”
Which isn’t bad advice at all. At least the second part, isn’t. The first part though… Well, I’m not going to say anyone has to learn from more established authors. I did. Lots do. No, you don’t *have* to. I tend to think, however, that doubt and self-recriminations come from within and have nothing to do with what other people are doing.
All of that said, I want to go on record about my position on this. Because I often teach about my process or give advice on how I do things.
My first advice is always, always, always: Own Your Own Process.
Which is a variant of “you do you,” to be sure.
Now, I tend to believe that discovering our own process comes from a combination of doing the thing a whole bunch AND trying out what’s worked for other people. (And if hearing what’s worked for other people sends you into paroxysms of self-doubt and despair, then yeah, maybe don’t do that.)
Still and all, while I’m happy to teach and share, that really is key. Find out what YOUR process is and own it. That puts all the rest into perspective. I promise.