Writing About Time

It seems appropriate, since I haven’t blogged in several days, to write about time. The concept strikes me as one that’s essential to a writer.

Writers can’t make time, since there are only 24 hours in a day and they need to take time to work, sleep, socialize, and all the other sundry activities that comprise someone’s life. So, I believe organization is one of the keys to success. You can’t be lazy. Writing isn’t easy. It requires dedication to improve your craft, to write and rewrite, to publicize your work and get it out to editors and agents, to make deadlines.

That last is important. Probably the most important if you’re serious about being a professional. You need a goal. There isn’t any pressure to sit down every day and put down the words that make up your story if there isn’t a deadline.

I started writing seriously back in late 1996. “Seriously” being a code word for finishing something that I started, because I’d never done that before. I was 33 and looking forward toward the millennium, and it killed me that I had not completed one piece of fiction in all that time even though I wanted to be a writer. I had gone to school and gotten a bachelor’s in journalism,  I had worked at newspapers for a handful of years as a reporter and editor, but I wasn’t a writer. I hadn’t created anything, not in the way I looked at it.

My first novel took 18 months to complete. Four pages a day, five to seven days a week, writing late at night after everyone else had gone to bed. I finished the book on Easter Sunday, 1998. It’s not the best novel, since it’s a first novel, but it is the first, so it holds a special place in my thoughts. When I look back, I grow sad to think of all the time I’ve lost since then because I didn’t set enough deadlines past that first one, which wasn’t really a deadline at all as much as a goal.

Now, I could fall into the trap of bemoaning the past and what might have been, but the point here is to learn from my mistakes. Sure, I might have written four or five more novels. Perhaps even more than that if I had applied myself. That’s the past, though. I can’t go back and change things. I can only move forward–toward my deadlines.

The first being the one for Sacrifices. Right now I’m a little behind the pace I want to set. Technically, I started this latest draft back on July 16, the same date I started this blog. My four pages quota is OK, depending on the length the book requires. There are 111 days between July 16th and Halloween, but I know I won’t be sitting down doing any writing the last week of October, as I’m attending the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus. Which leaves about 97 days between now and when I hop into my car for the four-hour drive. Four pages daily over the next 97, when added to what I’ve accomplished so far works out to 100,000 words. I won’t know for a few weeks whether that is enough to reach the end point I’ve selected for this story.

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About stephenwnagy

writer, father, husband. not necessarily in that order.
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2 Responses to Writing About Time

  1. kerry622 says:

    Excellent point I am trying to kick the procrastination habit in the butt! (Might need a 12 step program though!)

  2. stephenwnagy says:

    There are lots of different ways to kick the habit. As long as you’re trying to kick it, you’re doing the the right thing, and you’ll eventually find what works for you.

    The trick is knowing that how you write will probably change from book to book. There’s a good post by Neil Gaiman about writing and at the end he cites something Gene Wolfe said, that you “never learn how to write a novel. You just learn how to write the novel that you’re writing.” I think that’s true, but it only works if you sit down and apply yourself.

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