Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stop Daydreaming and Start Writing!

Those of us who write are usually also very good daydreamers.  In fact, some would say it's one of our best qualities.  Were it not for our ability to let our minds wander into uncharted territory, there'd be no stories for us to write, for it's only through the uncharted realm of the imagination that fantastical tales can be found.

Unfortunately, daydreaming can also be an impediment, and it can be so in multiple ways.  The first is that we'll find ourselves dreaming up story after story but never writing them down.  This would be wonderful if we could project our thoughts for others to buy, but technology just ain't there yet.  We have to remember to take what we see and put it on paper so that others can see it as well.

However, that can be a form of creative laziness, while the second kind of daydreaming can be both consuming and a much bigger obstacle than anything else, and that's when we succumb to the fantasies of our success.

Every writer I know or have even heard about fantasizes about what life will be like when they finally make it big.  Yes, a lot of writers will spin tall tales about how they're doing this for the love of the art or how they want to use their work to better the world, but don't believe them.  Sure, that may be true on a certain level, but deep down - or not so deep down for some - all writers want to be loved, and this usually comes in the form of visions of people fawning over us, with money as no object to our continuing careers.

I've been guilty on many occasions while walking my dogs in thinking about how much I'll have to sell in order to make a good living, or what it'd be like to walk the red carpet in Hollywood after my work has been picked up(in my dreams this is usually done by a Steven Spielberg type who just has to bring my book to life on the big screen).  It lets me feel good and gives me a goal to shoot for.  And if done in small doses, it can be motivating and allow us to knuckle back down to get to our dream.  Unfortunately, all too often this is as far as we get.

To reach those dreams, it'll take a great deal of hard work, and let's face it - dreaming is a lot easier than hard work.  Why spend 30 minutes staring at a blank computer screen when I could be envisioning my next book tour or practicing my signature for those who want an autographed copy of my work?

This happens far more often than non-writers think, and it's just human nature.  But we writers need to force - and I do mean FORCE - this stuff out of the way so we can concentrate on our book.  No matter how much we just know we deserve the accolades sure to come our way, we have to accept that such accolades aren't going to fall into our laps.  We need to outline.  We need to write.  We need to create a stable of books bigger than one.  This means sitting down at our computer and typing.  And not just typing, but putting effort into our story.  We have to figure out the wording, focus on showing instead of telling, and discern which plot points work and which ones, while nice, are superfluous and need to be axed.

Discipline is key here, and I'm as guilty as the next guy in adhering to it.  I started the sequel to Akeldama two weeks ago, got to 4000 words, and haven't done squat since.  I keep telling myself that I'll do 1000 a day(that should only take about half an hour), but I find that other things get in the way, whether that's the Internet, playing with my dogs, or just being tired.  I know what needs to be done, yet I have trouble doing it sometimes.  However, if I can't overcome it, I'll never have that 8-10 book goal complete before I publish, and that could create a serious supply problem since my time will likely be in even shorter supply once I have to sell in real time.

I've just got to force it, and if that means 30 minutes less sleep, or that I scarf lunch at my desk and eschew eating with everyone else at Chili's, then so be it.  I can daydream anywhere, but the dreams without the substance will do nothing but relegate me to the wreckage pile of 80% of the rest of folks who claim they want to write but never succeed, and that's unacceptable.


  1. Ah ... the dirty word .... discipline. :p

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

    1. You're welcome. Discipline is easy to talk about but so hard to follow.