32-31: The countdown continues to the biggest blunders to help you avoid them.
So what are you going to do as you wait for your standard rejection letter for your first book? – that is the most likely outcome awaiting you, resilience, a thick skin and time are essential. When I wrote ‘Hoofing It’ 18 years ago I was one meeting away from it being published by one of the biggest companies, so certain were the publishing house that it was going out they told me to get on with the sequel, which was harder than it sounded as it was set two years in the future (it is not a Science Fiction novel!). Then a: ‘no’, ‘not different enough for a first time novel’ and then… nothing. So you can see the line between success and failure is thin, and what makes a situation more stressful is when you’re not in control of it. Even if you do get published−it is no guarantee of success, just greater exposure. This is the major factor that is going to make you stop writing, or used to be 18 years ago, “Nothing is constant but change” –Socrates knew that way back when. “Rejection leads to lack of motivation, lack of motivation leads to less production, less production leads to failure.” −Yoda once told me in a dream! How do you motivate yourself? Belief is the simple answer−intrinsic belief. When I wrote my first book, once I had got my young children to bed and went and wrote until I was too tired to write any more. I substituted crap TV for writing. When I had finished my first ever draft the computer I was working on without any warning just crashed, I actually think it had a nervous breakdown, and I lost two-fifths of my novel! Yes, I had backed it up, well three-fifths of it. So I had to find the motivation to write the missing two-fifths, again! It is not the sort of mistake you ever make twice. (Email your finished book to yourself as well as backing it up externally). I found the ‘Big M’ (–not bloody McDonalds!), because I believed the novel I was writing needed to be written, and I believed some others might like to have a read of it as well. I cannot tell you as an individual where you will find your motivation from, but wherever it is you need to find it, because without it, you ain’t going to be a fiction writer. So…
32 Motivation/Not writing enough. These too things are really separate, but I will lump them together for convenience sake, and to avoid you feeling cheated. Motivation is something that if you are serious about writing should not be holding you back−‘writers’ block’ is a long way off and quite an abstract concept to you at this stage. What may well hold you back are everyday-life and time. As we turn around and around in life’s laundry there are many things that can get in the way. The important thing is to make time. If you are setting aside just Sunday mornings to write, it will take you between 20 and 40 years to finish the first draft of your book! Experienced writers take 3 months to knock a first daft out, and that is writing/editing full time, with all the research, plot and characters formed. You have to set time aside and stick to it, within reason obviously. Do you really need to see another programme about buying a house and then doing it up? A cake decorating competition, that by the next season you can’t even remember who won? A talent show, where the winners will be on a cruise ship within two years? Ad lots of infinitums! Which will make you more fulfilled−crappy tele or writing? We both know the answer. The last rung on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs ladder, what a Buddhist might call ‘writing enlightenment!’ –Motivation for most writers comes from reading other writers. If the author that you are reading does not make you want to start tapping away at your keyboard immediately, try a different author. If time is short, make it count, plan before you start, edit the previous work as a warm up activity, this is what I used to do and it sets you up to carry on writing, especially if it has been a few days/weeks since the last time you tinkled the plastics.
Not writing enough should never be a problem at the stage you are at now. If it is, try writing a blog, it’s all the rage−that stream of consciousness may help.
31 Lack of variety within the book, vocabulary, sentences and style. Here’s the simple test, being realistic, are you a bit bored by your writing? (Take your nihilistic head off!). Would you read this book and the sequels? Variety is the spice of life (not chilli). You might not be able to give crystal clear examples of declarative/interrogative/imperative/exclamatory sentences, off the top of your head, but you know what they are, so use them to add spiciness. Vary the vocabulary to avoid repetition, but make the vocabulary match the writing style. Vary the pace and emotion with your writing. You will only learn this part of the craft from reading great authors and studying the art form.
Like I said earlier I am not sure how you as an individual are going to find the motivation you need, but as Yoda said: “Try Not. There is do or do not. There is no try.” Do you really want to be that person at the party in a decades’ time that is still saying. “I’m going to write a book soon!”
Ian M Pindar’s latest books, under his real name are: ‘Hoofing It’ and ‘Hoofed,’ the first and second novels in The Robert Knight Series and are on special offer http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Ian+M+Pindar He has another three novels out this year.