Sort of a weird topic for a random blog post, don’t you think? I claim loudly and often that I am not a professional author, so obviously, any sort of rambling advice I could give on the subject of writing should be taken with a shovelful of salt. Even so, I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot over the past week or so, so I thought I’d write it up in a semi-coherent post and just see where things go.
Since I published Restart Again: Volume 1, I’ve taken a lot of different steps to immerse myself into the OELN (Original English Light Novel) scene, especially from the author side of things. [Note: I have an entirely different blog post percolating in the back of my head about OELNs and said scene, but I can’t go off on a tangent this soon into a post, so I’ll save it for another day]. I’m not a very social person, but out of necessity as a self-published writer, I made myself a Twitter profile to try and do a bit of promotion. What I found was a very welcoming community of like-minded writers who are all very passionate about what we do! I’ve only just scratched the surface of said community, but I’ve already found a wide range of people, from hobbyists to professionals! It’s been fun getting to know a lot of these people, and to get to know their writing, too.
However, one thing I haven’t done much of with this Twitter profile is post. I generally only make a tweet when I have something to announce about the project, which doesn’t end up being all that often. I reply to other people’s posts every so often, but I don’t contribute much information on my end. One way I see a lot of authors do this is through posting their daily word counts and general progress on their writings. Through this, I’ve learned a lot about how other people write, and I’ve come to realize that I write in a very different way than the people I follow.
It varies from day to day and from person to person, but I generally see average word counts of about 1500-2000 from these author’s tweets. Some people on the professional end hit a mark somewhere near 4000 per day. While I’m very proud of my writing streak and the consistency with which I work on my own project, my average word count ends up somewhere around 700; surpassing 1000 is a very successful day of writing for me. Now, what does this mean? Am I just an extremely slow writer? Answer: probably, but I think there’s more to it than that.
Another thing I’ve noticed is how often authors talk about working through scenes that cause them trouble, or how they make their wordcount on a particularly hard day. The general sentiment ends up being something like: “This part will probably need some pretty heavy editing later!”. That is something I absolutely can’t do in my own writing. If I get stuck on a scene, or a bit of dialogue, or just where the story is going next, it tells me I need to get my ideas together and figure it out, before I move on. I leave nothing for the editing pass. Every idea I put down is the idea I want to end up with.
Now, before you stop reading because I sound like an insane person, it doesn’t always end up that way. I don’t mean this in the sense that “everything I write is immutable and perfect”. My philosophy is that every sentence helps build into the next one. Every paragraph sets up where the next paragraph will be. If I’m not happy with the way an element of the story is shaping up, I don’t move on. I’ll rewrite it, right then and there, or I’ll sit and stare at the screen for half of my writing session as I puzzle through that one single paragraph. Now, if it comes down to something like word choice, I’ll leave myself a little note that says “this might sound a little funky, but the idea is solid”, and then a later version of me can read the passage and figure out if it’s okay, or if it needs a new word.
This writing style was a deliberate choice when I started this project. Throughout my life, I’ve worked on a heaping pile of writing projects, and I’ve never finished a single one (apart from this one) (no it’s not “finished” finished, but you know what I mean). One of the big things that always deterred me in those projects was roadblocks, and my general solution was to skip past it. I would either leave a chapter incomplete and move on, or jump ahead to a beautiful scene that was just dying to leave my fingers, and then leave myself this void space where I would have to go back and fill in the gap. That gap writing is impossible for me: if I’m hemmed in at both ends, I don’t have any room for creative growth. Can’t change too much, because the end is already decided. Can’t try a different route, because the beginning is already set up. How do I solve it? Give up.
Giving up is not an option on this series, so I power through. I set down the ideas I want, when I want them, and then use those ideas to create my next ideas. By the time I stagger across the finish line with a finished manuscript, I’m confident there’s no pocket of writing that I purposely left weak for a second pass. When it’s done, it’s done. I send it to my editor. Now, I have a fantastic editor who gives me everything from grammar changes to continuity issues to character notes, and I try to use them all. I’m certainly not saying that I won’t change the things I’ve written, just that, for me to be able to write confidently, every word before the newest one has to have been confident as well. It’s a slow process, but I think I gain some time back in the end. My editing pass is succinct: I read the entire thing top to bottom, fix and errors, send it to my editor, and then go through all the notes. Then I’m done!
With ALL of that being said, I don’t think there’s really a perfect philosophy to writing. I’m happy with the way I do things, but I know I could be a lot more efficient if I could just compromise every once in a while and move on with the story instead of getting stuck in the minutia. I also think that solely focusing on a word count in a day can be demoralizing: missing a word goal will hurt, and you might throw down some stuff you aren’t happy with just to make ends meet. Compromise, as always, is the name of the game, and I’m not great at it.
So, I guess that’s a little look behind the curtain that nobody really asked for. Maybe one massive blog post is my way of compensating for not putting myself out there more on Twitter. I think that’s alright, honestly. I don’t have much to say all that often, but when I do, I have a lot to say (clearly). Before we go, quick update on Volume 3! The end is very much in sight. The total word count for the project is over 164,000 words, which means that this volume will be over double the length of Volume 1. Dang! That’s a lot of words. When the manuscript is finished, I’ll give it my final read over, send it for editing, and do those adjustments in parallel to my writing on Volume 4. I’ve done a much better job scheduling artwork while writing this time, and will have two extra pieces of insert art to go along with Volume 3, done by the same artist that does my covers!
Speaking of which, can we just take a moment to look at this amazing cover art for Volume 3?
Just fantastic stuff, right? Lia finally gets her moment in the cover spotlight.
On a quick personal note, I’m currently recovering from getting all four of my wisdom teeth removed. I’m about 10 years late to the party, having left them in and impacted for waaaay too long, and I’m feeling the effects of that in full force. However, taking off a few days from work to recover has also given me plenty of time for writing, and I’m approaching the end of Volume 3 faster than ever. Guaranteed finish by the end of February, if not, perhaps, by the end of next week? Ambitious, but achievable, I think.
As always, thank you for sticking with me on this one. These blog posts end up longer than I intend them to every time, but I hope you find some value in them. Until next time, stay safe out there, and as always, thanks for reading.