writing life

Snow Day! Commence the Hubris!

Baltimore is partway through the process of receiving somewhere in the area of a foot of snow, and I got a half day off of work! Sort of a test run of the full-time writing life. Can I actually be productive with large chunks of free time?

Phase 1 says yes. Bill and I got together and sketched out season 1 of Hubris Towers. Overall arc, eight episode summaries, and hooks for the future. And while I can’t give too much away yet, it’s killer. I don’t remember the last time I’ve laughed so much. I seriously cannot wait to start getting this series out.

Phase 2 is a little iffier. Once he went home I had about 45 minutes to write more words on Frobisher. I’ve written this blog post and watched some Comedy Central clips. Not a great sign, because now I have to go be responsible. Still, day’s not over yet. And the snow’s not either.

Snow day tomorrow? Please?

In the meantime, here’s a neat article about a Chrome Extension that lets you see the way your writing in a Google Doc progressed, one keystroke at a time: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/watch-me-write-this-article/

Cheers!

—Ben

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I’m On Restriction (But It Did Get Me Writing)

I’ve now spent two days this week meaning to write 1,000 words or more and writing none instead. I mean, I wrote a lot of words on blog posts and marketing stuff and posting story chunks after final edits and all, but that doesn’t count. I mean real words, new word count on novels in progress.

Now that all of the new release hullabaloo is over, I’m really feeling an urgency to get back to regularly producing lots of word count. I’m more excited than ever about the great stories I have in store, and while marketing and publishing are key parts of the work, and I find them rather fun, my single top metric for success these days is new word count.

More than that, I want to become the sort of person I can trust to hit word count goals like a clock, absolutely reliable regardless of circumstances. It’s going to be a while before I can go full-time with my writing, but in setting up milestones or benchmarks that will help me decide when it’s time, I’m beginning to formulate a new one in terms of reliable writing streak, something like “Can’t quit the day job until I’ve logged six months of 5,000 words each week without exceptions.”

Marketing and publishing and “research” and fun ideas and future planning will all still exist when I’m writing full-time, and there will be a lot less of the artificial structure and boundaries that force me to write fast in rare little bits when I can, so it’s absolutely critical to get the patterns of reliable production firmly embedded now. Counterintuitively, it may actually be easier at this stage, when my entire livelihood isn’t resting on it and I have long patches of my day taken up with other occupying pursuits so ideas can simmer and develop in the background for my rare patches of writing. Or maybe not. We’ll see.

But anyway, in the meantime I do need to write, and my target is 5,000 draft words per week, and I dropped the ball the last two days, so for today I put myself on restriction: no blogging or marketing work until I’d written 250 words. Because for me it’s really mostly about getting started. I didn’t finish those 250 until halfway through the day even so, but the last 130 were in a single 3-minute burst. Let’s see if I can catch up for the week, or at least hit my thousand for today. I’ll report back tomorrow.

Do you guys have any tricks for getting writing (meaning new actual story material) when there’s other stuff vying for your attention?

Cheers!

—Ben

Back to Job One: Write More Words

My first book launch is (mostly) over. It was highly successful and highly educational, a crazy whirlwind of 18-hour days and emotional highs and strategy and enthusiasm and screenshots. Now it’s time to get back to the real work and joy of being a writer: writing.

Launch Highlights

The Stone and the Song: A Fairy TaleThe launch of The Stone and the Song was a test run in preparation for upcoming full-length novel launches. For a first release and a short work, I was surprised and pleased with how well it did:

  • Nearly 100 pre-orders
  • 4 days on the Top 20 Amazon Best Seller list in Fairy Tales
  • Broke the top 10k in Amazon paid rankings
  • Really lovely response in early customer reviews

Above all, I’m incredibly grateful for the massive enthusiasm shown by my friends, acquantances, long-lost friends, friends-of-friends, and new readers throughout this launch. I was blown away by all of your kind words, word-of-mouth, and eager purchases. Thank you to everyone who was involved!

Back to Work

Pre-order and launch was a really intense couple of weeks. I put in many hours beyond the day job working on final formatting, marketing copy, promotion, and infrastructure. I indulged in the urge to obsessively refresh my stats—hey, you only get one debut book launch, right?—and record and celebrate and angst and adjust things. I allowed myself to get fully sucked into the experience, and I learned a ton.

And then, like waking up, I realized all of it had been a week or two out of my life, and the Big Climactic Launch Day is actually the beginning of my book’s life in the world, not the end. I’ve stopped obsessively refreshing—it’s going to be a little while before Amazon recommendations and new organic sales start kicking in, even if that happens. And I’m ready to move on.

This was fun, but it’s all in the service of a bigger goal: a life spent writing. Now that the bulk of the work on Stone & Song is done, I’m finding it’s oddly pleasing to let it go and get back to business on the next big thing. Today’s goal is 1,000 words on Frobisher and, if I can swing it, uploading the next chunk of The Dream World Collective for free reading on Patreon. I really enjoy the strategy and the friends and the energy of a launch, but I love the writing.
Cheers!
Ben