Writer Talk #2: Shiny New Ideas

Hello, all. I’m back. Did you miss me during my hiatus? Did you notice I went on a hiatus? No? Well, that doesn’t matter. I’m here now.

A lot has changed since my last writer talk when I was struggling through a new draft of Lethal Shores. Mazel tov to me, since that draft is completed! I decided to take the advice of a good friend who said, “You’re too close to the story. You need to take a break and edit it with a fresh mind.”

I had resisted putting Lethal Shores aside for a while because I want to see it published. Yes, I know how impatient that sounds, but I’m also not the only one. We all begin a novel knowing it takes years to create yet we think, “I’m going to be that magical writer who finishes entire books within a few months and publishes them that year. I’ll never be the guy working on the same book for the past decades!”

We writers have to stop lying to ourselves. It isn’t healthy.

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Moving on, I took my friend’s advice, and I set Lethal Shores aside. I feel good about the work I have accomplished with that book; however, it’s burning me out. It’s time to start something new.

Introducing My New Untitled Project!

It’s saved as Steampunk Story, so that will have to do here. I’m not going to share much about this story since many details are likely to change. All I can say is its genre is steampunk. If you didn’t figure that out already.

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My writing process has changed dramatically since the first draft of Lethal Shores, which took me three years to create.

Two Basic Writing Tools I Wish I Had Years Ago

  1. Outlining
  2. A daily writing habit

Outlining has mostly eliminated the writer’s block of not knowing what happens next. It’s also easier to keep track of subplots and character arcs. For me, I can’t have too many things going on in my brain while I write. I need to focus on the scene at hand.

Secondly, I’ve developed a daily writing habit. At first, I didn’t know what I can achieve in one day. I had always considered myself a slow writer. But with the power of newness, I shot through the beginning of the story and wrote over 50,000 words in one month. For some people that is not a big deal, but remember my last first draft took three years.

But what about the shiny new ideas?

Starting a story is the fun part. If books were composed of only the beginnings, I would have published more books than Stephen King by now. The worst part of the first draft, at least for me, is the middle. The part where I am now. The shiny newness has disappeared and the thrill of the end is far out of sight. There’s only the grind, day in and day out.

I have amassed an incredible collection of story ideas. I have a binder with over 30 ideas from the past… what was it… three years? Stories keep coming and I have pushed them aside to work on my current novels. Earlier years taught me if I ditch a story, it’s unlikely I’ll ever finish it.

Story ideas attack me in the most unexpected and inopportune places. I’m not complaining, but if you ever see me at a party and a look of horror slides over my face, I’m probably getting a book idea and am panicking because there’s no place to contemplate it or write it down.

Although I’ve been falling in and out of writer’s block with my Steampunk Story, I force myself to keep writing. I’ve got an outline, so I know what happens next. (Outlines are total G-d send!) There’s only writer’s block from the usual emotions that accompanies writing: lack of motivation, fear of failure, the feeling of every word on the page is utter garbage and should be burned and sent to Hell before it destroys the world with their awfulness.

Hey, who said that writing was fun?

The point is to just keep writing.

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All writer have days when they just don’t want to write. Failed writers quit. Successful ones push on.

I have just emerged from a motivational block. The past week was awful. It’s a shame the shiny-new-book-idea power surge doesn’t last forever, but hey, it’ll be back in time for the next book. But I’ve got to finish up my current one first!

What are you working on? Do you get distracted by shiny new book ideas? Comment below!

Now get writing!

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