Last week, I talked about finding success in finishing a project. What you didn’t know is that when that blog posted, I was actually on a vacation with my family—and I didn’t take my computer. (Sounds like torture, huh? But actually, it was kind of nice knowing I couldn’t work on any of my projects if I had time, which I didn’t.) When we got home, my son asked, “Mom, so did you come up with any great book ideas while we were gone?”
To which I replied, “Actually, no. I’ve decided to focus my energy on the book I’m working on right now so I can get it finished before starting something new.”
He looked shocked, because I always come up with a new idea on a trip, and then I get home all excited to write down all the details. Not that I didn’t have ideas this time. But I think I’m fairly focused on two main projects, and I’ve told myself everything else has to wait, so all the ideas I had were centered on my current WIP.
Now, the issue is one of time. It’s summer vacation, and since my kids are home during the day, I’ve lost my quiet time of concentration. The best time for me to work and focus on finishing my own projects has been while the kids were at school and my husband at work.
But don’t worry. I’ll adjust. There’s nothing more exhilarating in this journey of ours than finishing the last page of a novel and knowing that you truly are finished. (Minus countless edits, of course.) It’s been a few months since I finished my last novel, and my current work has been slow moving due to my crazy, hectic life. But I will finish it!
Brandon Sanderson once gave a lecture at a BYU conference, and during his class he claimed that you have to write a minimum of five novels before you get one published—so he did just that without any expectations and miracle of miracles, his sixth (or is it fifth?) novel, “Elantris,” was purchased by Tor while he was in the process of writing number thirteen. Coincidence? I think not.
Still, I have no intention of letting my first five novels sit in a drawer forever. Nor do I intend to edit them over and over again for the next fifteen years. My very first novel will never see print—I won’t allow it because it was bad. And I have no intention of rewriting it. That particular project was a wonderful learning experience for me—and proof I could actually finish something of that magnitude. My second was much better, though a bit short for a novel, and has been submitted. That one I will follow up. It was better. My third, I dare say, is leaps and bounds ahead of the other two, and I’ve pinned a lot of hopes on it. That’s the one I’m actively submitting, and hope to follow up as a series. But we’ll see.
Meanwhile, I’m working on number four, and gathering ideas for other projects that I won’t start until the fourth is finished. With each project, I’m learning more about my craft, the mechanics of good writing, and the importance of outlining a plot. I have high hopes for every one of my manuscripts—but I’m finding the wisdom in Brandon’s words. The more I write—and finish—the better I become.
Follow up is key to success. So, write something every day, focus on as few projects as possible at one time, and remind yourself how important it is to finish what you start. You never know when that big book deal will come your way, and all the better if you have two books to submit instead of just one. Or three or four or five or fifteen…
Until next time, keep up the hard work! I wish you success.