Slow and steady wins the race

That’s what she said. (Badum tish!)

If you know the work of George R.R. Martin, then you’re familiar with the long wait times between book releases. Martin himself even admits he’s a slow writer because of so many side projects, with a wait time as long as six years between book releases. His next book is coming out this year, with two more in the Song of Fire and Ice series listed as forthcoming.

For fun, let’s look at different writers approach.

Stephanie Meyer’s books were a product of what I’m going to call “rapid fire publishing”:  each book was published within a year of the last one (2005-2008). Meyer has published two other books, one in 2010 (Twilight related) and another in 2011 (non-Twilight related), but not to the critical acclaim (i.e. splattered all over the internet) that the Twilight series has had.

Now, how about we switch gears.

J.K. Rowling had a period of rapid fire publishing (1997-2000) with her first four books, but then a strange thing happened: a gap. Her next book wasn’t published until 2003, then a two year gap between the last two books. Thus far, Rowling has not explicitly stated that she’s writing anything new, but I believe she’s expressed an interest in new projects.

How about a writer that can probably school all of them?

J. R. R. Tolkien died in 1973, and his most recent publication came out in 2009, while his earliest piece of poetry came out in 1911. Its a safe assumption that Tolkien had something published pretty much every year starting in 1911, be it in fiction, poetry,  or academia. In addition to that, the man created his own language(s), a world, and a religion to surround it. J. R. R. Tolkien has become the model for almost every high fantasy writer (in my opinion). He’s set the bar so high, that its incredibly intimidating.

But let’s get back on point, shall we?

Take out what genre they write in, age, and gender, what’s the difference between all four of these writers?

Presence.

Tolkien and Martin are not limiting themselves to just one genre/style of writing, they’ve expanded into other areas and grown their fan base. Meyer and Rowling wrote contemporary romance & fantasy books for tweens/young adults, but tweens and young adults grow up.  Rowling managed to preserve her fan base by having her characters grow up with the fans, something the Twilight series lacked.

I could go on about the Rowling/Meyer Differences, but I’ll spare you.

Point being that if you diversify yourself as a writer, you’ll attract more people. And your fans will probably forgive you for taking so long to write a new book.

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Serious Face

While at FandomFest, I had the chance to listen to a panel talk about blogging and how it affects their lives.  Then I realized something:

I am not a professional writer. Hell, I’m not even ready to be a professional writer.

I started getting this feeling after Con Nooga was over, and listening to the writers there talk about their work. Writing is not an easy profession by any means. Well, any profession has its own level of difficulty, including professional party-goer. With writing, its very much a mental game. You have to get over the feelings of in adequacy, “writing blocks”, and fear that no one is going to like your stuff.

Once you get past the mental game, then it works in to self discipline.  Setting aside time each day (or after work, if you have a day job) to write and complete your obligations (professional or contractual). During this portion, your motivation to write is higher than the previous stage: no writing=no finished project; no finished project=no pay + no future gigs (because you’ve effed yourself over).

Once your project has been submitted, then the revisions start. Maybe they didn’t like this one scene. Or all of chapter two. “We hate the ending, this person shouldn’t die, change it.” Revisions are going to take a while, which means your book probably won’t be coming out until three years from now, or later since (spolier alert) publishing works in cycles.

What this all boils down to: hard work. Plain and simple. Here’s my problem: I still can’t get past the mental game bit.

My mind’s favorite thing to do is to think waaaay too far in advance, even if we’re still in the starting stages. I could be just starting out with a new story, and suddenly I’m on movie rights. “Should this be live action or animated? Which studio should I give this too? How about a director?” Then my inner critic pipes in that everything I’m writing is total crap, and not even a small publisher is going to touch it.

Then I go back to Reddit to make myself feel better by reading rage comics and looking at porn.

EARTH PORN.

Mmmm, Earth Porn.

Yeah baby, I like it like that.

What was I talking about? WRITING! That’s write right.

How do I start getting my serious face on so I can be a professional? Well, for one, I can start by doing this simple little exercise:

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

Everyone wants to be fabulously wealthy, with studios banging down their door for the rights to their stories. You could be the next JK Rowling, but don’t expect it to happen. It took JK Rowling several years to be discovered, and an equally long amount of time to get movies made of her books.

The important thing is, you have to start somewhere. Just keep swimming writing, and worry about all the extra bits later. Just focus on finishing (that’s what she said!)

Ah-hahaha. I’m so mature.

Also, sorry for the late post. Wrestling with contacts and all; they’re such slippery little bastards and run away a lot.