With apologies to my friend Kristi Belcamino - I can’t stand the term “Church of 1,000 Words.” Maybe I'm just a grouch when it comes to phrases. But here's the thing:
It’s spot-on. You have to write. Every. Single. Day.
Let me zoom out a second. I am just now coming out of what I’d like to call a “transitional” period as an author - my first book had come out and I was now fielding questions from friends, family, fellow writers and fans about “When’s the next one coming?” On top of that, though, we (my agent and I) were trying to find a home for not only the next Pete Fernandez book, but the third and the first. A challenge, I think - but my agent nailed it, and now I’m happily part of the Polis Books team.
“Nice plug, bro, but what does that have to do with writing?”
Excellent question, imaginary heckler. It has a lot to do with it, actually. Because as writers, we don’t just sit at home and crank words out 24-7 - we promote, we do events/conferences, we network, we pitch to press, we interact with booksellers, we take meetings and, let’s face it, most of us have day jobs. That does not leave a lot of time for the biggest part of the job, which is problematic.
While in this between-book-limbo, I polished off a draft for the second Pete book, Down the Darkest Street (which was required to get out of the limbo...and now coming in 2016 from Polis Books! Such a relief to say that.), I worked up a few comic book ideas and then...waited. I had about 40k words for Pete Book 3, but with no real sense of what was going to happen, I didn’t want to push further in case things didn’t go as we’d hoped and I’d have to pivot. So, short version - I was working on stuff, but not Working on Something, meaning a specific book. That means it was much easier to do other stuff. Play the guitar. Read a lot more. The urgency and deadline pressure that motivates me wasn’t around.
Still, like any kind of exercise, if you don’t go to the gym/workout for a while, your muscles get lazy and tired and your body just doesn’t want to do that painful thing anymore. Writing is like that.
But here’s the thing, and I can’t speak for anyone else - when I’m not writing, I become pretty unbearable. It’s like there’s too much stuff in my head and if I don’t sit down and crank it out on the regular, my mood gradually dips. It was that realization more than any external pressures or decisions that got me behind the desk again and working on stuff - anything, really. I wrote a short story. Finished that comic pitch. Edited a sci-fi short I was collaborating on. I just cranked on whatever was in front of me.
And, once the book deal was locked, I sat down and had a goal: to finish a draft of third Pete book. I was already in shape, though - having warmed up on a bunch of smaller projects. So, when I did have to face the gigantic, frightening prospect of another novel, it didn’t feel so scary. That was mainly because I was attending The Church of 1,000 Words. Sure, I was sitting in the back with a hat and shades on, but I was there.
Which brings me to my question to the readers of the blog - what’s your process? Do you have a daily word count? How do you balance non-writerly writer things with the actual work?