I had an interesting chat with an author the other day. They said, in part,
“I’m not sure if I’m relieved or worried that an author as advanced as you still brings up the fact that she also has problems with this self-discipline thing.”
This was in response to my post about self-discipline.
I was quick to correct their impression, but it occurs to me that you might be reading this blog, and also thinking that I’ve got self-discipline completely nailed. That my will-power is made of iron. That my workdays are studies in the art of productivity.
I can understand why authors who are newer to the profession might think that I and other more established authors have got this writing thing licked. For me, in particular, with my very large back catalogue, it might actually look like I’m a complete machine.
I am most definitely not. Not anything of those things. Not even close.
I have said elsewhere on this blog that I am a relapsing/remitting procrastinator. I’m also a perfectionist extraordinaire. Both are terrible traits in a writer.
Yes, I still struggle with self-discipline. I am only human. I have some dreadful weaknesses and bad habits.
I have, at the time I write this post, written under all my pen names:
- 115 novels,
- 15 novellas,
- 36 novelettes,
- 22 short stories,
- 9 peices of flash fiction
- 2 Non-fiction books
- Uncounted but innumerable blog posts and articles.
It might give you the impression that I never miss a day of writing, that I crank out 10,000 words every day.
I’ve been writing for publication since 1994. I wrote four trunk novels (not included in the above counts) before my fifth and six novels sold in the same week, in 1999. I wrote around a day job until 2015. I’ve been writing full time since then.
That is a lot of years spent writing, and if you spread the finished work out over those years, my actual average word count per day is miserable.
If I had written even 2,000 words every single day over all that time, my backlist would be huge.
But I’ve succumbed to procrastination, inertia, and discouragement. And the last two years, cancer slowed my pace to turtle speed. But even having cancer is an excuse. I should have got back into writing mode weeks before I did.
Those advanced writers who have it nailed.
More established writers might look like they are screaming along, flinging finished stories out at lightning speed, but like nearly everything else you learn on the internet, it’s an appearance, and the reality is somewhat different.
More established writers are just as human, weak and flawed as newer writers. What they have learned, though, is hacks, tricks, and mindsets that help them get to writing more often than a newer writer might. But they’re still not perfect.
I, too, have spent decades learning how to be more productive (not perfectly productive). It is an ongoing struggle. I’m more experienced than a lot of writers in getting myself to the desk and producing words, but I haven’t reach nirvana and won’t, any time soon.
Perfection is improbable for any flesh and blood writer. Even me.
That’s why I write this blog. My posts draw from personal experience. They present hacks and tips that I’ve found useful, and ideas that I’ve used to try to get more words written.
I share everything I learn and come across elsewhere, in the hope that some small thing I say touches off a new level of awareness for you, and helps bring you to your writing practice with renewed enthusiasm each day.
On the positive side
If you must draw anything from my deep backlist and seemingly fantastic disclipine, it is that if I can do it, then anyone can, including you.
Learning just a little bit about productivity and how to get more words written each day can have an amazing effect on your writing business.
Really studying the subject, and working on self-awareness will accelerate your effectiveness exponentially.
This is all good for your business and your self-esteem.