2020 Author Goals

2020 Author Goals.jpg

One of the things to remember when setting goals is that less is more. If I want more productivity, then I take more off my plate rather than add to it whilst budgeting my time into complex micro-amounts in an attempt to tackle it all. With this said, last year was a year of focusing on my novel. This year I want so much more. We’ll see if I can have a lot more without breaking my goal-setting rule of less is more.

Writing Goals. 
My goals for this year include editing my completed novel, editing my dialogues, and to work on two new novels.

Whoa, Randal, that’s way too much. When you said you wanted “so much more,” we didn’t expect your “more” to be that much more than last year.

Okay, yes, I admit this doesn’t look like a run-of-the-mill full plate, but an over-the-top heaping plate. However, I have a plan.

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Daily Routine.
I intend to tackle all of my writing goals this year by splitting my weekdays into two manageable chunks.

I really wanted to work on editing my dialogues last year, but I rarely got around to touching them. I think this is largely due to the fact that I intended to make evenings my editing time. These intentions were thwarted by my enjoyment of evening reading, chores, and spending time with my wonderful wife. So now I know that if I want to actually edit what I’ve written, I need to edit during the day.

The daily routine will consist of half writing and then half editing. I’ll spend half the time working on a new novel and then the other half of the day editing, using lunch as a mental reset button.
Writing_Habit
Specifics.
Starting next week, I’ll begin outlining a new novel. And, yes, I said outlining. I know what I want my next novel to be, and it’s going to require a little more plotting than the last two novels. We’ll see how this goes. I’m a little leery of plotting since I feel that the weakest parts of my last novel were the ones I most heavily outlined. In the end I may just plunge into composition, but I’m going to try and start with a framework if possible.

For editing, my priority is to finish typing up the hand-written zero draft of my recently completed novel. Once I’ve done that, I will set it aside and work on my dialogues, both so I can actually finish editing them and so that I can come back to my novel with fresh eyes.

YouTube Binge
Weekends.
I don’t always utilize weekends to their full advantage. I have a weekend job that—while not exactly a sinecure—gives me a lot of free time to devote to whatever I want. What I want most of the time is to binge YouTube. However, I also read, socialize, and even write during this time. In fact, everything I’ve ever written at work was published within days. So quality doesn’t seem to suffer. Still, the easier pleasure is YouTube, and I have freely indulged.

Adjusting how I use my weekends is perhaps my biggest 2020 author goal. The adjustment to my daily routine is simply a matter of learning to shift focus. Changing how I spend my time while at work on weekends is not just a shift of focus, but will be a total shift in behavior. I’ve trained myself pretty well at seeing weekends as a time to plug into the internet. Outside of livestreaming my writing, I pretty much avoid being online during the weekdays. If I avoid going online at home, I can avoid going online at work, right? Well, we’re about to find out how easy it is to retrain this lazy habit I’ve built for myself.

So what am I going to be doing with my weekends? Answer: I want to try an experiment.

You may have noticed that in my writing goals above I mentioned working on two novels. The experiment involves one of these.

An idea popped into my head shortly before Christmas for an experimental novel built around a refrain. This book is really calling to me to be written. I do feel it’s important to write something a bit more accessible, which is what my weekday novel will be; yet, I don’t think I should ignore this pull I feel towards this strange narrative. So in order to make sure I’m not just writing hard-to-sell experimental works, but also not ignoring my creative impulses, I’ll be working on the refrain book during the weekends.

The experimental part of this weekend project isn’t just the fact that it’s an “experimental” book. I am kind of comfortable with experimental writing at this point. For me, the experiment is to try and write a novel solely on the weekends and to also try and write the zero draft on my work computer, using something like Google Docs perhaps. I’m going digital on this one for convenience’ sake (no lugging my laptop, no forgetting a physical manuscript or flash drive).
creative flow
Social Media. 
To stream or not to stream, that is the question. 

Okay, so I finished writing my latest novel while livestreaming, which was really cool. But I’m not sure I want to continue to stream while I write.

Here’s what I like about streaming while writing:
1) It’s totally motivating to get in as many hours at the desk as possible.
2) I take shorter coffee breaks because I have an audience to entertain.
3) It’s a pretty unique thing to do.
4) By watching me write for hours and hours, I can hopefully inspire other creatives to devote time productively, helping them to quit their own procrastination by joining me while I write.

Here’s what I don’t like about streaming while writing:
1) I haven’t found a feasible way to use my standing desk while livestreaming, though this certainly isn’t an insurmountable problem, just a technical one.
2) The quality of my writing goes down due to distraction from my viewers.
3) While I am grateful for the viewers, especially my regulars, I am not actually reaching the audience of creatives (especially fellow writers) I am specifically creating content for, which in the ends means I am doing more chatting and much less actual writing than I’d like.
4) By far this is the biggest issue: I am struggling to get into the flow or the zone. I don’t think flow is necessary for writing—even good writing. However, flow not only feels good, it is a sign that one is in a state of intense concentration and growth. In some sense, it is necessary to be striving toward flow because this is the main signal of overcoming the obstacles of the kind of striving that makes you grow as a person. I believe that achieving this kind of flow is necessary to living well. But with people dropping by to chat and ask questions (and maybe even to donate a dollar or two), that flow state isn’t reached for me. If I’m not reaching a state of flow ever, it’s possible I’m failing to grow as an author and as a person.

It’s mainly due to the last point that I feel that my experiment with livestreaming while writing on Twitch is probably over. Nonetheless, I am entertaining an attempt at livestreaming on YouTube. The audience may be more receptive of things that failed to garner positive attention on Twitch, such as my silent writing streams. However, even with an audience of authors, I’ll still have an audience to engage with, meaning that flow isn’t likely going to be achieved.

Speaking of YouTube, I still want to keep making YouTube videos (aka: AuthorTube videos). It’s the addition of these kinds of social media projects that start to make my plate feel full. Luckily, I don’t feel like I’ll ever consider my main job to be creating video content, meaning that this can be done on an as-I-desire-to basis.

Mondays are usually a day off for me when it comes to writing. So I think that if I want to make a video, Monday will be great for recording and/or editing. I have a long way to go when it comes to creating good looking and sounding videos. Strangely, the YouTube video I uploaded looks and sounds fine when I play it on my laptop. But it doesn’t seem nearly as good when I play it on my work computer. So I have some more adjustments to make before I do my next recording. And while I don’t expect perfection of myself, I’m hoping that with each new video, the quality will continue to increase.

And, while I’m trying not to overdo it, I’m also still working on an educational YouTube concept. We have multiple people involved in this project, including an amateur filmmaker, so quality won’t be the issue it is with my personal videos. The biggest hurdle we have had is in the script writing.

We started out writing scripts for one conception for the show. The concept was fine, but as we continued to talk, the idea grew and became something else. Me and the other script writer were not satisfied with what we wrote for the new concept, so we tabled the idea for a long while. Well, I recently revamped the idea once again and will be writing a new script and presenting it sometime this month. There’s no guarantee that we’ll all like it and agree to green light the project, but I’m hopeful.

Like I said, this is possibly too much for my little mantra, but at the same time it’s something my best friend and I have wanted to do for a long time, and I can’t pass up the opportunity for collaboration—a rarity for book authors like me.

giving you books

Let’s see, editing two completed books, writing two new novels, plus creating content for two YouTube channels . . . Less is more. But more is also more. I’m giving you four books and (hopefully) some AuthorTube content. And I’m giving myself a reasonable schedule, which is why less is more is still my motto for productivity.

Please do let me know your 2020 author (or creative) goals. How do you manage your time? Have you been successful at reaching your goals in the past? Does the concept of less is more ring true for you? Let me know in the comments.

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Remembering to Celebrate Our Successes

Remembering to Celebrate Our Successes

Dear Blog Reader,

I am not going to troll you. This post is about my latest publication, Remembering to Celebrate Our Successes, which appeared in C.R.Y. yesterday. It’s an enjoyable piece if you read it blind. And I suggest you do. Below I’m going to be writing about the publication, so if you would rather not have spoilers, please click the link above and return here when you’re done.

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In the past month I had around 30 people follow me on Medium. Currently, I try to check out my followers and read something of theirs if they happen to be writers. Almost every single person who followed me was a writer, generally posting their articles rather than submitting to publishers who use Medium, a company that hosts the writings of both publishers and individual bloggers. Some of the authors were quite good. About 20, however, wrote what I can only describe as motivational copypasta. Maybe it is original writing, but the vague feel-good and self-improvement articles certainly lack any original ideas or spin.

I have found that since Medium created a paywall option for articles—meaning that writers are actually paid when their work is read—that tons of articles with clickbait titles, containing little of substance, have exploded on the host’s platform.  Remembering to Celebrate Our Successes is my response to this.

Derailment is the central image of this article. The piece starts out as another pro-tip for positivity, aimed at creatives and entrepreneurs. Your reading expectations are derailed when this motivational article turns into a story about the narrator’s celebration of his recently completed manuscript. Likewise the narrator’s own plans are derailed when his drug and alcohol-fueled night go awry.  In fact, the image of derailment, in the form of dilapidated boxcars sitting off the train tracks, sets the final scene of this story.

By the way, this is a story. I only wrote it to make it seem, at first, like a nonfiction article. The character is not me. He only shares a vague resemblance to me, including a common nickname, just as the story only shares a vague resemblance to all the motivational copypasta inundating Medium’s feed.

Anyway, I appreciate you giving my story a read. And don’t forget to celebrate your success while knowing that perfection in your plans is unattainable, and sometimes what you want is derailed by circumstances both within and out of your control.

Also, don’t write clickbait. Write something original.

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AuthorTube

 

AuthorTube

 

Hey Word Journeyers! I’ve been wanting to test the waters of the writing community on YouTube for some time now (AKA AuthorTube). However, between moving and livestreaming on Twitch while focusing on completing my novel, I just didn’t get around to it until today.

Well, I actually recorded the video yesterday. To be honest, I had some fancy video editing software and it was totally glitchy and broken. It wouldn’t load most of my recordings and those it did load wouldn’t preview my edits. Then suddenly we were shopping for a house, and I just put it off and put it off some more.

Yesterday (because my streaming software updated and wouldn’t work afterward, giving me some free time) I gave the fancy editing software one more try, even using newer recording equipment. Still no dice. So I downloaded the simpliest free video editing software I could find, and it worked. I can’t do anything terribly fancy, but I don’t need fancy for these videos, especially as a new member of the AuthorTube community.

Click here to watch Randal’s YouTube video:
Zero Draft Done

This first video for AuthorTube is on finishing the zero draft of my novel. I had uploaded an unboxing video when Descriptions of Heaven was released, and have since been a fairly active community member, commenting on a lot of my favorite videos.

The kinds of things I might make videos on include:

  • Writing updates
  • Publication announcements
  • Talking about the writing process
  • AuthorTube tags
  • Livestreams

I just want to thank everyone who does go out of their way to watch the video. And I double my thanks to anyone who likes and subscribes. I really appreciate it. I’m branching out beyond writing and getting my stories published because these kinds of things spark my creativity, not to mention it makes this isolated activity just a bit less lonely.

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WIP Wednesday #6: Zero draft DONE

Work in Progress

Ever watch an author finish writing his book?

Watch Literally writing the last pages of my novel. from RandalEldonGreene on www.twitch.tv

If you clicked my video above, now you have. 

Finishing the book took me a bit longer than I expected. Buying a new house, moving in mid-October, setting up the office, and learning how to begin “professional” livestreaming all took time away from actual writing. But actually write I did, and the book was finished yesterday.

writing with pen

My novel technically began in early 2007, as an idea. It had a lengthy seven-year gestation period before the first words of the book were born. I actually started writing it around September of 2014. So it’s been five years in the making, around twelve years total from concept to paper-draft completion. In time since writing began I got a girlfriend, moved into a rental house, got married, wrote a short story collection, became a first time home buyer, had something like 24 short creative pieces published, and saw my first novel printed by a small press.

decluttering desk

The plan today is to begin typing up my zero draft. First, I’m going to tidy up the chaotic mess that is my desk. I think there is such a thing as creative chaos, and the tendency towards this in my writing space seems to affirm it as a fact. But periodic cleaning is a good thing for focus. And a good time for decluttering is the start of a new chapter. This certainly counts as one for me.

I’m still making small adjustments to my process. This includes how and when I livestream my writing to how and when I work on what. For example, I’ve been putting off my dialogues for a long while now. The novel was imperative. And, truly, it still is. But I need to finish editing my collection of creative conversations sooner than later. What I think I will do is set aside certain hours of a specific day to focus on that and other short fiction projects.
webcam
Livestreaming itself has been an interesting experience. I feel like maybe I should move the livestream to YouTube where there is an existent community of authors and writers. I may attempt a trial of  this in the near future. I’d also like to try making some videos for AuthorTube and see how that goes.

As for livestreaming on Twitch, I’ve found that most Twitch people aren’t there to write, even if they want to hang on my stream. For this reason, my most popular streams have been ones where I’m chatting. Chatting while writing is, naturally, distracting. So I’m adjusting my schedule to make sure I consistently do silent writing streams and also give myself more hours of “private” writing sessions (you know, just regular writing, not in front of a camera). So some of my streams are going to be starting later to make sure my writing isn’t overly interrupted by social sessions. In other words, writing comes first; the stream is there to build community by encourage others and myself to keep at it.
whiksey
I’m also encouraging donations with a Whiskey Wednesday stream, where I’ll be imbibing a drink or two during the writing session. There’s a nicely placed whiskey fund tip jar for those willing to subscribe or donate to the cause of writing drunk and editing sober.

How long will this novel take to edit? That is simply something I cannot be sure of at this juncture. Hopefully less than a year. During the writing of this book, I’ve learned not only a lot about how I write, but how my body desires to write and desires to not write. I don’t experience writer’s block, but I do experience distraction, excuses, the easy pleasures the TV screen and of a book (“just one more chapter” becoming an all-morning read). So in the next phase of this novel, I’ll probably be learning a lot about how I edit something this lengthy. Certainly, I have ample experience editing short fiction, and even my first short novel, but this manuscript is sure to both test and teach me.

It’s a test and a learning experience I’m looking forward to.

firstdraft

Twitch it up this NaNoWriMo

Twitch it up this NaNoWriMo

Hey, bookworms, authors, and NaNoWriMo participants!

anime Girl sleeping with book over water (relaxing)

Whether or not you’ll actually be doing NaNoWriMo this month, sometimes having a writing partner is nice. Because of scheduling conflicts, lack of a local writing community, medical issues, or many other reasons, it’s not always possible to find those real life writing partners. One of the alternatives is an online writing community.

We have technology

I’m a huge fan of the YouTube author community (AKA AuthorTube). However, live writing sessions are spotty at best, even if there’s tons of quality entertainment, advice, and inspirational videos for writers. That’s why for many of my mornings these past months, I’ve been chatting live with writers on Twitch. The Twitch writing community is smaller (much smaller), but it’s been giving me something I’ve been wanting: writing partners.

Twitch VS YouTube

I’ve been enjoying it so much, that I spent this week learning how to livestream with Twitch. I took a lot of time before this to think about the Twitch writing community and ponder what I could bring to it. There are streamers who work with their chat to write a story together, streamers who put their screen up so viewers can see exactly what they’re working on, and others (my favorite kind) who chat and do writing sprints.

Writing Sprint

The one major concern I’ve had as I’ve joined in on livestreams is the same exact concern I have every time I’ve decided to boot up the computer while writing: distraction. But I found that the Twitch writing community is, by and large, motivating. Writers actually writing, authors discussing the writing process, book lovers talking about books, and people forming friendships and connections during livestreams have all helped grease my writing gears.

What’s been distracting is the noise.

Noise Noise Noise

By noise, I mean that when I’m really ready to get into it, I have to silence the screen (or at least turn the volume down really low because it’s not nice to mute a Twitch streamer since you won’t count as a viewer on that platform if you mute the stream, and view count is important for streamers). Noise is obviously not a problem for most people who are looking for writing livestreams. But for some (like me) I’m sure it is. I want the community and the company while I write. But I could do without the music many streamers play in the background, plus the auditory chatting from the streamer can become distracting.

While a chatty streamer works for a lot of writers, it doesn’t work for this author. Thus, why I put that volume scroll way down, almost at mute, after a while. But this got me thinking that maybe what I can give to the Twitch writing community is a silent writing stream.

white mute button

So I introduce to you, my Twitch channel. It’s not all silent. Just the middle hours are. There’s author talk time both before and after the writing session.

I’m super excited to see all the NaNoWriMo writers looking for a live (and streamable) writing community while they work on their books. And if you’re not a part of NaNo, that’s great too. I’m not participating myself this year; instead I’ll be finishing up the last sections of my novel-in-progress. So all writers are invited. I stream early mornings to early afternoons. The goal is to be online by 8am, Central Standard Time most Tuesdays through Fridays.

Let me know if you can make it to the stream and comment below with what you’re working on this November. Write on!

Randal Eldon Greene Twitch Stream

WIP Wednesday #5: Home Stretch

Work in Progress

I think I’m in the home stretch. But I’m not sure. It’s takes me months sometimes to write a chapter. Technically I’ve been working on this book for years. I haven’t always had the luxury of being able to build a daily writing habit. Nor have I always utilized the writing time I have for working on my novel. But even when I am writing daily, I find it takes me a long time to finish a chapter. And I’m only on chapter 11 of a planned 15 chapters. Yet, despite the evidence of the past, I really feel like I’m in the home stretch.

The number one reason I should not feel this way is that I am moving to a new home. That’s right, my wife and I are moving out of our rental and are buying our very first house together. In a month and a few days, I’m going to be a bona fide homeowner. This week we began packing.

Office

The first box for the move is taped up and labeled.

Trying to finish a book while also getting ready to move is probably not wise. But you know what I think is even more foolish? Not writing.

There’s a time to write and a time to rest. Right now, it’s not a time to rest, but a time to use the changes in my life as a catalyst to finishing the first draft of this book. I figure that if a normal person only gets to pack in the evenings after work or on weekends, then I can just pack after I’m done writing for the day.

moving boxes

I won’t be finished with this book by moving day (Oct. 12!). Still, the feeling of crunch time is helping motivate me to get this novel done. I might get burned-out with packing our whole house into boxes, but I don’t think I’ll be getting burned-out on writing the book. There’s too much excitement there for me. Especially since I have a self-imposed deadline of October 31st.

Why Halloween? Only because I want to do NaNoWriMo, so I will ideally be done on or even before the deadline. Hopefully I’m not setting myself up to fail in November (or to fail to even participate) by cutting things so close. Nevertheless, I think it would be nice to just set the novel aside in November and let my creative side jump into something completely different.

And now for something completely different

I won’t go into my evolving thoughts on NaNoWriMo or into the piece I hope to write for it because it’s not yet being written and this is work-in-progress Wednesday. All of that will come later—if at all. I will, however, share a photo of a note from my wife I found on the back of one of my as yet unpublished stories while sorting through papers that needed filing.

Wow. Three Eyes by Randal Eldon Greene

WOW. This is probably the best thing you’ve written. Seriously, honey!! ❤ ❤ ❤

In summary, I think the rest of chapter 11 and the subsequent chapters will be written faster than all the parts of the book that came before. I’m in the home stretch. Let’s just hope that my move doesn’t stretch me beyond my limits, creatively or otherwise.

Micky packing

Reflections on a decade-long journey to getting a flash fiction story published.

A revised and updated version of this post was published in The Ascent. Please read it there (especially if you are a paying member of Medium) because I get paid a little when my piece is read and clapped for. Thank you. 

Raw Art Review Publishes "Expire"

Read Expire for free in Raw Art Review’s Spring 2019 Collection or buy a hard copy on the publisher’s website.

This story took a long time to place. I don’t think it took so long because it was poorly written. In fact, I’ve had some compliments on it over the years. The editor at 34thParallel (one of the first magazines I ever submitted to) had this to say about it:

Dear R.E.
Let me say I’m impressed by your story; dialect in any form is difficult–damn difficult–for a whole lot of reasons of which I’m sure you’re aware. So I’ll repeat, I’m impressed–damn impressed (if you’ll excuse my language).

Only this April, the editor over at Barren Magazine had this to say about the two dialogue flash fiction stories I had submitted for consideration:

Thank you for sending “Expire” and “Attributes of a Girl” for our review. I really loved the experimentation but (especially “Expire“) we literally couldn’t tell what was happening. I know these responses are annoying but hope it helps a little!

Tahoma Literary Review also found the piece hard to understand. While they apparently made their way through the dialect, they ultimately decided that it didn’t work:

[I]n “Expire,” I found myself working really hard to parse the patois/dialect.

In other words, the form/gimmick outstripped the narrative.

I don’t blame any of these publications for rejecting Expire. It is a short piece and it is purposefully difficult. In fact, that’s the whole point. The form/gimmick is another layer of the theme. In fact, the way the story is presented makes the reading experience mirror the central issue of the story.

If you do figure out what is going on then you realize that the story is about how difficult it is to get a point across when trying to tell a story. The piece is constructed in a way to make it difficult to read. While the narrative revolves around a guy who doesn’t understand a specific word in a story being told about the Titanic, the form of the story itself challenges you, the reader, to understand the story on the page. Expire is printed as a block of text, using only dialogue without any dialogue tags, and one of the speakers in the story uses a black American vernacular. It’s not easy to read.

Expire is hard, and it’s meant to be hard. So I’m not surprised that I’ve received both positive feedback and criticism. Yes, I’m a little surprised it took me a whole decade with at least 33 submission attempts to get Expire published, but published it is at long last by Raw Art Review.

One of the differences with Raw Art Review is their commitment to trying to get a work. And that’s why I think they published this story where others didn’t. Bullet ten of their current submissions guidelines says this:

“Editors assume you are smarter than we are. We will strive to understand your intention ; stay open-minded and try to avoid imposing our presumptions on your work.”

Trace Sheridan, the editor with 34thParallel who was “damn impressed” with the use of dialect in the story, asked to see some more pieces alongside it. She ended up publishing the story Bad Weather instead of Expire. I don’t know exactly why she or her team didn’t publish it, although I think they would have had I had more stories like it—dialogical and dialectical—since she asked to see some more pieces while also asking, “Is this part of a larger set/collection of pieces?” And, at the time, no, it wasn’t a part of anything larger than itself.

Expire did eventually inspire me to spend a year writing dialogues. It was a good year. And I came out of that year with a good collection. Truly, I owe a whole book to Expire that I wouldn’t have otherwise written. Expire not only set the tone and implicit theme of the entire collection, but as a story that took a decade to get published, it reminds me that storytelling is a difficult art, even when you accomplish perfectly what you intended to do, like I did with Expire. It is one of my best pieces. And like many great pieces of storytelling, it says something that not everyone can hear and not everyone will like, but it says what it has to say boldly from the first word to the last little piece of punctuation.

Rusting Sunken Ship

 

 

A Terrorist Organization Sent Me a Letter

A Terrorist Organization Sent Me a Letter

That’s right, a terrorist group not only sent me a letter, but using Publishers Clearing House style writing, told me I could win guns and gold in a sweepstakes.

Part of entering involved stickers. There were three of them.

I WANT TO WIN GUNS & GOLD!

I WANT TO WIN GEAR & MORE!

I WANT TO WIN TWO BONUS GUNS!

Read the full essay on Medium to find out more about this insidious group and how I responded to this appalling letter.
assault rifle

BIG – New Publication

BIG - New Publication

My thirteenth dialogue to be released is BIG. Okay, it’s actually a rather short story, but it’s subject is big and is fittingly appearing in the Gypsum Sound Tales anthology COLP: Big. All the stories in this collection are themed big: Big is home to a collection of stories that feature large, enormous or gigantic characters and concepts and, in this situation, it is most definitely a case of bigger is better.

My story is called The WaveIf you’re so inclined to read some short stories about big things, you can purchase a paper copy or you’re free to grab a Kindle copy on Amazon.

COLP: Big

 

WIP Wednesday #4: Am I a Novelist?

Work in Progress

When I began writing Descriptions of Heaven, though I did intend to one day become a novelist, I never intended this narrative to be of book-length. The thing grew from a single scene into a story composed of chapters. It, in fact, unintentionally took the place of a book I was writing about a son dealing with the decline of his mother’s health due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Descriptions of Heaven 3D image black background.

Even with this book published, I had never been quite certain that I legitimately was a novelist, since my first book is what many call a novella. However, I have come across writing just as short as my novella where the publisher calls it a novel in the blurb and foreword. So I was either a novelist who wrote a little novel (novella) or a short story author who wrote a long short story.  Either way, my book was published as a standalone piece, just like any novel—big or small. Yet, I still kept asking myself, Am I a novelist?

Novelist contemplating©2004-2019 wredwrat

When asked what I do all day, my default answer is no longer “I’m a writer” or the only sightly less vague “I write books.”  Instead, I’m more apt so say “I’m a novelist” (though saying I’m a short story author is equally true, short fiction work isn’t a part of my quotidian practices).

There are two primary reason I’ve embraced the term novelist:
1) Recently, a friend on my Literary Fiction Writers Facebook group, during a discussion about the demarcations between a short story and a novel, pointed out that the real difference isn’t word count, but structure and flow. Novels and short stories are extremely different in that respect. While I’m not willing to discount word count as playing a central role in their difference, I’m apt to agree that rather small word counts can still be structured as novels. Descriptions of Heaven has under 35 thousand words, but it is structured as a novel and does not flow like a short story.
2) I have to admit that in this past six months I’ve become much more focused on my novel-in-progress, spending less time on my short fiction, which I often used to write, edit, and submit in lieu of working on my novel. Not only did my computer go kaput, as I explained in a previous WIP Wednesday post, making this kind of productive “distraction” less available, but I’ve also been spending every free day I have novel-writing for as long as I feasibly can. While it’s often not as much as I want, I can honestly say I am spending large chunks of my weekdays writing a novel.

©2016-2019 TheGraphicNovelist
©2016-2019 TheGraphicNovelist

So, there you have it. I have already written one little novel, and most Tuesdays through Fridays I spend my hours after breakfast until lunch writing my next novel. I am a novelist, both a published and actively working novelist.

Real talk time: I think a lot of novelists suffering from impostor syndrome or whatever, suffer a lot not because their book is too small, but because they don’t write as much as they can. No one should spend all their time writing, and in your life there are likely other things that take precedence over creative work. But a lot of us have the time—have in fact painfully carved out some small hours to focus on creativity—and yet we feel like impostors because we haven’t developed a good writing habit, thus we don’t use the time as we should. Consequently, we don’t feel like writers, let alone novelists.

The truth is, I haven’t developed a consistent habit of getting back to the desk after lunch. I can’t even blame it on a honey-do list, since I don’t let chores distract me anymore. My problem is that writing’s been going so well that I often finish my intended writing goal for the day or complete a long scene before the hours I’ve carved out for myself are used up. So I often stop writing because my brain feels like it needs a reset or some time to think about what’s next (yeah, I’m not a huge plotter).

On the one hand, I don’t mind these breaks because I’ve felt productive and hit my goals. On the other hand, I want to make a living as a writer—as a novelist—and in order to do that, I’ll probably want to be putting out a book every other year. Stopping for scene changes isn’t going to cut it.

Maori Sakai writer's life

© Maori Sakai

Here’s four things I’m doing to try and keep it going:
1) During lunch, I don’t turn on the radio or watch any TV. This lets my mind linger on my work, keeping me in my novelist zone or at least letting me transition back there faster.
2) I just get right back to the desk after my break and write. It’s been years since I’ve had to be in a mood or needed the Muse to write. So why I think I need to be calibrate my brain for the next section of my novel, I don’t know.
3) If I don’t have so much as a bullet point on a sticky note or general idea of what comes next, I’ll let myself go on a walk and think about it. I write when I get back. This isn’t something I want to become a habit since I won’t be going on walks come our long Midwestern winters, so I’ll only go out for a walk after serious creative thought. If nothing comes, I’ll let myself head out into the neighborhood for an hour or so.
4) I’m building a habit by writing every day I can, starting as early as I can and staying at it until 3:00pm if possible. Yet there’s this thing called real life that gets in the way sometimes of that good habit, so I’ve been trying to write daily regardless of the time. If needed, I’ve started at 11:00am, which is really late for me. I’ve even resorted to writing in the evening if I didn’t get a chance to during the day. While it cuts into family and reading time writing so late, it also shows my commitment to making a living from my books, continues to build my writing habit, and literally gets me a few pages closer to my goal.

This book is getting done. And, while I am a novelist, it’s forming the habit of novel-writing that’s going to let me someday be a career novelist (and occasional author of short story collections).

author novelist short story writer

© Elias Stein

 

Do you consider yourself a novelist whether you’ve written a novel or not? Or a poet, even if you haven’t made a collection of poetry? What are your writing habits like? Are your habits working or can you improve upon them? Let me know in the comments below.