I hate these disclosure blog posts but hopefully folks can learn from my example.
Here’s the situation. I signed up for the Fairwood Writers Workshop at Westercon this year. However, I didn’t sign up (or know about it) until Norwescon, earlier this month. The deadline for submissions was, oh, last night. Now, I have a new puppy, I’ve been seriously sick and work has been vigorous this month. Heck of an April. That hasn’t left a lot of time for writing. Except for this weekend.
I have a short story, set in the same world as Angel Odyssey, about a boy living in a death-worshipping culture. Honestly, I think it might have one of my stronger short stories. It was about a quarter done before this weekend, aiming for a word count of 7~8k. It was a story I really wanted a pro’s opinion on.*
This weekend was the first time all month where I felt well enough and Logan Tiberious was ‘behaving’ well enough for me to try to get some writing done. It wasn’t a huge window of time, a few hours on Saturday, a few hours on Sunday. But it was enough. If I had used my time wisely.
That’s the setup, here’s what happened. I worked 13 hours Friday and Saturday…well…I felt like sitting on the couch or taking Logan for a walk**. So, video games and resting won out over writing. Not the end of the world, I thought. I have Sunday morning. I knew the basic plot. And I can seriously crank out wordcount when I’m in the zone.
What did I do Sunday morning? I wrote a DIFFERENT story.*** I spent several precious hours writing a fifteen page short story. It was one of those stories that popped into my head and I felt like I needed to blow out my tubes with, so to speak, so I could write what I really needed to write.
Bad idea. I finished the throwaway story. That left me with two hours to write about 6k words. Not. Going. To. Happen.
See, when I get into the zone and write like I did Sunday morning, it seriously takes a lot out of me. I end up sweaty and achy**** I have to rest, refuel and recover. I did and I even got some more writing in (getting to the half-way point in the story) but I basically wasted my best shot. And I wasn’t trying to write around writer’s block. I wasn’t at a loss for ideas in the story. I just had this story in my head that wanted to jump to the front of the line.
So this is coming from the heart, here. If you want to be a professional writer, like I do. You need to act like a professional. That doesn’t mean wearing a sportcoat to conventions.***** It means writing what you need to write and not what you want to.
Video games, TV, throwaway writing…those are all rewards for doing the work you need to do. You can’t let them be a barrier to doing the work itself.******
I ended up submitting an older story. Not a bad story by any means but one that I’ve gotten Wordslinger feedback on already and that I was already planning on revising******* before sending out. Now, I’ll be interested in hearing what folks have to say about it, more eyes are good. But I didn’t send out the story I really wanted to. And I’m not likely to be able to submit it to any other workshops this year.
Learn from my screw up. Write what you need to write. Don’t goof around with a deadline.
*though I’m finding the feedback from the Wordslingers to be as useful, if not more so.
**It was also one of those rare sunny, warm Spring days.
***not a salable one, I suspect, either.
****from not getting up and moving around. I’d say ‘don’t do that’ but to be honest, when I’m in the zone, nothing else exists. I can no more get up and walk around than I can stop doing the Humpty Dance halfway through. Annnnd, that’s not a great metaphor.
*****Though that helps :)
******Notice I’m not including reading on that list. Book reading can’t get in the way of your writing but it’s so vital for a writer that if you’re going to goof off, reading sort of gets a pass, I think.
*******And expanding to novella length, I think. Or maybe a novelette. It feels like it wants to break the 10k barrier but I’m not sure by how much, yet.