Writing fast and hard is how I roll. People ask me how I can do so many books in a year—by the end of 2014 I will have written five (not all in print yet.) I tell them this: writing is like a muscle, and the more you use it the stronger it gets. Many people are limited by their beliefs about writing, and as a therapist I’m a little more aware than most that we can change our belief systems to make them better serve us.
“How can it be any good if it’s written in haste?” goes the thinking. Actually, look no further than dynamo Russell Blake, who does ten books a year and whose New Adult romances I had the privilege of ARC reading as he branches into a different genre. Russell is a writer who will knock your socks off in any genre and only gets better the more books he writes. In fact, Russell wrote such a great blog on how he gets so much done that I don’t have to repeat it, because I already use most of his suggested speed tips. Check it out here: How to Write More, Faster.
“What about the muse?” Bullsh*t on the muse. That whole thing is mythology, a handy construct upon which to visit our excuses. Yes, indeed, inspiration exists but actual good writing is 10 % inspiration and 90% perspiration. If you believe you must have certain conditions in which to write, then by golly that’s what is your truth is, and that’s what you’ll need to perform. Personally, I enjoy the concept of a muse…and I’ve invented her as an eager workaholic who can’t wait to get to the page and get her word count in every day, a cornucopia of ideas that can’t write fast enough. That’s my truth, and that’s what’s happening for me.
Russell’s suggestions are so true—all the rereading, internal sensoring, the nit picking, the rabbit trails of research, and GOD FORBID, THE INTERNET…These are all time-wasting excuses to dawdle from the admittedly daunting task of filling the page with amazing prose. Instead of poor quality, I make the argument that in writing fast and hard, we can bust past our excuses, our fears, the lame-ass namby-pamby ego massaging we indulge in that says we need a ritual, a special candle and incantation, a blankie for ourselves and child care for the kids. My friend Holly Robinson told me about a writer’s thing she went to where literary lions (and lionesses) took up to four years to complete a novel.
“Second income dilettantes,” I said. Are any of them making a living writing? Really? Buying a car and putting a roof on the house? Doubtful. They have spouses or trust funds providing a cushy nest from which to navel-gaze and word polish.
Yes, I’m talking like the nouveau riche, self-published brat I am, standing outside the country club gates. But I try to imagine how unbelievably overworked a book I took four years to write would be. Sheesh! These folks obviously never had the wolf scratching at the door for the next hamburger!
No. If you want to write hard and fast, find the time. Write on your phone on the train. Dictate into your voice memo as you drive. Use the deadly negative reinforcement stimulus of a program like Write or Die. Even if it’s just hour a day, pound it out. I always tell myself when I’m faltering or feel like I’ve lost the thread and want to stop, that once I have the words down, however treacly-cliched or steroidally-adverb-enhanced they might be, I have something I can then wrangle into better shape—LATER.
When the first draft is done.
What must you have to get started? Not much. A blank page, an idea, a map (outline), a timer, and to sit your butt in the chair and Get ‘Er Done. Or do like Russell, and walk on a treadmill while typing, an awesome two-fer I’m trying to get the equipment for.
Everything in that first draft may not be good. Some days the word count will feel like taking flight on soaring breezes, the muse a gliding and fulsome wind beneath your wings, others like sledgehammering in a lead mine—or even, as my journalist friend Shannon Wianecki put it, “When good, the act of writing is creamier and more delicious than custard. When bad, it's like trying to scale a wall full of splinters while wearing a shirt that smells like cat pee.”
But it doesn’t matter. You show up at the page and put in the time and keep to your schedule. And in that way, the worlds meant to be born through you come into being.
After Fire Beach Lei Crime #8 went to my expert readers, I felt emotionally hung over. At the end of every book, I always do. There are a few days of restless wandering, of unexpected socializing (because everyone is so surprised you’ve actually shown up to something! My husband jokes that people don’t really believe he has a wife) and for me, there’s a letdown I call Post-book Depression.
But I don’t let it settle in. I get cracking on the next outline, and my writing muscle and habit have gotten so strong, thirteen books in four years into this journey, that I just don’t feel right unless I have a fresh work I’m writing.
On that note, I’m off to work on Rip Tides, Lei Crime #9, coming in January 2015.