Overnight, it seems, I've become a far more prolific writer. From spending up to two years on short novels of 40K words, I finished the last book in 'just' eighteen months...and should finish the next in no more than a year. Long-range goal: one book every 9 months, with 3 months to recharge and plan the next.
As I say, these are short novels. I know a number of writers capable of writing 2-5K words a day. And I know several, such as Russell Blake, who can turn out 4-8 novels a year. Sci-fi writer Kevin J Anderson recently wrote a 200+K word novel in 11 weeks. So I'd be in a sorry state if I wanted to compete.
I don't. But I do want, and need, to put on speed without forsaking quality. Mystery readers want a series of books--with, preferably, 4-5 titles to start. And I've just published the second book in The Seattle BOP series that seems to ring readers' bells. Now I need to finish the third book to secure a market place.
So where does quitting come into all this? Once I had all the toys and tools I needed--good laptop, Dragon Naturally Speaking (to convert longhand to text), Grammarly Premium (to help edit and proof)--I still had two dragons to face.
First, I'd come to see myself as a slow, painstaking craftsman capable of writing just 500 words a day. Second, I go through five or more drafts and at the end of each of them, I'll spend weeks typing up my changes, creating a slew of new typos.
I came to the conclusion that it was high time to quit thinking of myself as slow and being such a crappy clerk. And, since I was major league quitter on other fronts--alcohol, tobacco, meat, sugar, coffee--I'd apply the lessons I learned there to the task before me now:
1) No compromise: There can never be 'just one more' cigarette or drink. Just so, there can't be 'just one day' without reaching my goal of 1K words. That is the road to perdition.
2) Create strong routines. I'd gone to the gym or dojo at the same time I'd have gone to a bar or sat smoking my head off in a favorite cafe. Now I start each morning off with a brisk walk, followed by 1000 words before work. No compromise. Every day.
3) One day at a time...yes, but with a sense of the big picture.
The stark reality may crush: a lifetime to go without booze or a smoke? What are three days or week next to that? Three thousand words drafted...but 58k to go? I've learned the importance of keeping a daily log so that I can see and feel the days or words I've accomplished so far. It's a primitive but solid way of reminding myself that this is really going down.
4) Rewards are necessary. Why? They reinforce this central truth: Quitting in no way deprives us. It empowers us instead. And so we should celebrate with a well-deserved reward.
It isn't hard. Just keep these words in mind: