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A Journey Through the (Writing) Desert

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I haven’t written any fiction in a long time. At the beginning of November, I made a couple of attempts at a first chapter for Daughter of Glory. Those didn’t work out well. I decided to hop forward to the second and then the third chapter. Still wasn’t working.

I’ve had writer’s block before. I have a very simple solution to beat it. Schedule your writing time and stick to it.

Now, the requirement is that you have the will to actually put butt in chair and fingers to keyboard when you are supposed to. Way back when I was first freelancing in RPGs, I did this. 7 PM for one hour was my writing time. My wife – who is totally supportive of my writing, which just adds to your infinite awesomeness – left me to write, did her own thing, and wouldn’t even pass along phone calls during that hour. Sometimes I would write longer, but I always put butt in chair and fingers to keyboard at 7 for an hour. It worked like a charm. A hard first week, but by the second week, my brain seemed to adjust to creativity on demand.

Why am I not doing that now? To be honest, I’m having a hard time getting motivated. My fiction writing motivation falls neatly into three categories: 1) acclaim, 2) cold hard cash, and 3) a due date.

Acclaim is what pushed me to keep writing short stories until I got published in ON SPEC in Canada and Black Gate in the US. I did that. The slog of writing, submitting, waiting, revising, and submitting again was manageable for me because I had a goal. That goal being met, the acclaim motivation has lessened. It would certainly be a feather in my cap to get more stories published in ON SPEC, but it is not primarily a heroic fantasy market, and I really don’t want to inundate them with my work. I probably shouldn’t be thinking that way, but it’s part humble and part self-conscious. What if I keep submitting and they never ever publish another of my stories again? Right now, I can rest on my laurels, if I keep submitting, I might have to face further rejection.

A coward’s way out, perhaps. I’m willing to accept that.

Cold hard cash is always a great inducement, but the market that offers even five cents per word are vanishingly few. That’s one reason why I plan to Kickstart a short story collection. If I can find enough people to pay me five cents per word for fiction, that will feed both my ego and my wallet. We’ll see what happens in January.

Finally, a due date. An example of this is the short novel/novella Dark Horizons. I promised to write a chapter a week, and I did it. Granted, it’s probably not the best example to offer, given the lack of strong editing due to time constraints, but considering I wrote and published between 1,500 and 3,000 words every week for 35 weeks, I think I did pretty good. If I hadn’t made the promise, I doubt I would have finished the story. A promise is a powerful thing.

So back to the current dry spell: none of my three main motivations are rocking it right now. I am doing some small writing in the RPG field as I get Nefertiti Overdrive ready for Kickstarting, and for now, that’s enough. I’m okay with this dry spell. I’m trying to decide what I want to do. Do I want to keep working on fiction that likely no one will ever see unless I give it away for free, or do I want to focus on RPGs, which have at least the outlet of my local gaming group?

I haven’t made that decision. I think January’s short story collection Kickstarter might help me decide.

You can find more information on Daughter of Glory here.

You can find more information on Black Gate here.

You can find more information on ON SPEC here.

You can find more information on Dark Horizons here.

You can find more information on the short story collection Kickstarter here.

You can find more information on Nefertiti Overdrive here.