Working Through the "Stall"

We're in that no man's land of writing. DbC 2 is still five months out from release. DbC has been out for a year, so at this point, there are few surprises on that front. I've turned in DbC 3 and still await a response. DbC 4 sits fallow at the moment. DbC 5 stands at about a quarter done.

We missed about a month of writers' groups in a row, what with conventions and illness and commitments. Then I missed last week due to a new sickness at the house where we meet. This week it falls on my birthday and people have made plans for me.

It can be easy to feel like you're stalled. As if nothing moves forward.

This is where professionalism becomes important. I'll produce less during this time, sure (especially the periods where I'm sick or we're missing group because of my commitments), but during this time, I need to build up a writing buffer for the next time I'm sick or I'm busy but writers' group isn't cancelled. Those weeks will happen.

It's easy to say that it's all about discipline, but it's really about knowing your own limitations. I've personally discovered that my weekly writers' group is my discipline. It's a deadline that I will almost never miss. Without one, I'll go a year and a half without writing. Now how would it be with a publisher? I don't know. Things might be different, but I've known a lot of writers who miss deadlines from publishers. I know that when I started my game company, it was much easier to motivate myself to put in 120 hour weeks at the beginning than after I realized that it would never be a great success. So here I am in this "stall" moment. The writers' group is the cause of part of the feeling of the stall, but that's just an illusion. I'm mid-book and still have some momentum. What would I be doing if I didn't have that writers' group (or another like it)?

I'm not willing to find out.

My mother sent me a quote last night. It was a variation on "It takes ten years to become an overnight success as a writer." For many writers, this has a lot to do with finding out their limitations and their capabilities. Learning what routine works for them and what doesn't. I know that if I discovery write, I'll restart a book three times, like Tolkien. I can't afford that. I've learned that I'm more productive after everyone's gone to sleep, but I can write any time no one's bugging me. I've learned that I'm a night person, but I can retrain myself to any schedule if need be. I've learned that being sick is about the worst thing for my productivity. Being in pain, thankfully, is not that bad (because I spend a lot of time at near-unmanagable levels of pain). I've learned that I can write or record an audiobook on three hours sleep, but I shouldn't edit that way.

But mostly, I've learned that there's a slacker deep inside me, and that I have to work hard to keep him in check. New words are the hardest for me to motivate myself to create (they aren't the hardest when it comes to the actual work), so if I can just keep the pipe full of them, the 120 hour weeks of editing that follow, by necessity, will come naturally.

Did I mention I can write and record audiobooks on three hours sleep?