Hello, dear readers, and welcome! I hope you're having a wonderful March.
I've been very busy the last few weeks, partially recovering from a cold, and partially allowing myself to be inspired -- and therefore plotting new stories, as I always am.
Today's blog post is about keeping track of your progress. Also, if you'd like check out my Crimson Sterling post for today: Don't Be Afraid of Success...Or Mediocrity. Links are up for the pre-order of my first (official) Crimson novel, Midnight Terrors, on BN.com, iBooks US, iBooks UK, and more!
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We live in a fast-paced world. I'm sure I've said this before, but the more time I take to really sit down, and allow myself to become inspired, to notice things that I wouldn't otherwise, and to allow my stories time to become, instead of rushing them along, the more I notice this...and the more it frustrates me.
It used to be that authors shut themselves away and wrote, wrote, wrote, taking their time with their stories, and perhaps releasing one every few years -- and this was alright. It used to be that writing was a solitary thing, and in many ways it still is (unless you count the author's interactions with her characters, then it's more like a party), but even that has changed. People can now publish quickly, get books (well, e-books) in seconds, and it has become an expectation for writers to write just as quickly as they can publish.
It's a frustrating time to be an author, just as much as it's a great time. More is not always best, and quick is not always best, either. It can become disheartening if you are only able to release one book a year, and see others releasing ten; you start to think that you're inadequate -- and if you're anything like me, that is the worst feeling. But as I've said in a few of my previous posts (check out: Shattering Author Expectation, Stopping the World, and Writing To Be), we can change all of this, if we want to.
I can choose to take my time, and I can appreciate my right to do so; it works better for me, and better stories come out of me taking my time.
But, what I wanted to focus on in this post is cataloguing -- or, keeping track of your progress -- and how we as authors can use this to our advantage, and how it can be both fun and fulfilling.
I am currently reading the book "Show Your Work", by Austin Kleon, whose book "Steal Like An Artist" I absolutely loved (I recommend both; you can find them at his website), and it talks about just this. Writing used to be a solitary job, but now we have the ability to make it a bit more community oriented -- and we have the ability to control how munch we share, and how much time we put into it, which is important.
If you're like me, you can't have too many things in your head at once, or you can't focus. I can't listen to ten conversations, watch a film, read a book, and then expect myself to be able to write; there are too many things clogging my mind, too many distractions. But, I can use social media to my advantage by showing others what I'm working on, or use the tools in my phone, computer, or even notebook to keep track of my progress.
We spend so much time focusing on the end product that we don't enjoy the journey -- and what would Bilbo Baggins' journey have been like without Rivendell, without Mirkwood, without his fateful encounter with Gollum and the Ring? It would have been boring to walk out his door, end up at the Lonely Mountain a few steps later, and then step back into his home. He had to go "There and Back Again", and so do you.
Life is a journey, and writing is a journey, too. Any undertaking is a journey, and the traveling is much more exciting, and teaches us much more, than the ending of it. If you catalogue your work, you can really see how far you've come, and you'll appreciate every small moment even more. So what if it takes you three months or three years? It's your own personal "There and Back Again".
Take pictures of things that inspire you, of your word count, of your expression after finishing chapters or scenes, and put the photos in a scrapbook. Log your word count into a file or notebook, write down how you felt about different scenes, summarize what happened in those chapters. Take videos of yourself writing, flipping through finished pages, anything to make you feel accomplished. There will always be a new book or project, but this book, or this project, will never happen again.
Don't let the little moments slip by while you're awaiting the big ones.
And while you're having these moments, share them -- if you want; no one is obligated to do anything. Let your readers know how excited you are, and they will be excited, too. Instead of having one, big ending party, have a bunch of little parties in between.
Life is too short to miss out on the adventure that every day brings.
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