I’ll be honest: for writing this has been a hard month. More details below, just know that I am writing daily, early in the morning. There were just more days this month where it was difficult. To get out of bed. To put words to paper. To keep believing in the outcome. So focussing on the process was key.
Another month has passed and looking back, I see that dedication, even if it meant only writing 150 words in the morning (did I wake up for this @#$%?) pays off. It’s the process, not the output that matters.
What do I mean when I say that. Well, if I were to judge my writing by the daily output this month, I’d say it was a poor month compared to others. Most days I did not reach my 500 word minimum, and other roles I have in life demanded some more attention. Which is fine. I am after all someone who chooses to write in his spare time, not a professional, published author. Yet.
If I look at the process it was a great month. Every day, barring four, I woke up early and wrote. If I really didn’t feel like working on the main story I intend to finish, I worked on writing up the D&D adventure I run as a GM. If that didn’t capture my interest, I scribbled about the world, character backstory or pondered how the overall arch of the story should change given all the material I added over the last ninety days.
Just stick with it. That’s all I can say. Because the process is there for a reason. The daily time set aside to write – first thing for me – and listening to an audiobook on writing, in my case Sol Stein’s On Writing, to help spark ideas, means that whatever time I have set aside per day for the craft is spent on it. What I produce in that time is not as important as that I produce something in that time.
Why? I would best compare it to physical fitness. Just like I don’t get physically fit from one bout at the gym, I won’t become a better writer by only writing one time.
Physical fitness is a combination of nutrition, training and resting. Writing fitness is also a combination of nurturing my creativity, training my craft and recovering from using my well of inspiration.
In both areas, regularity and consistency are key to progress. That is why the process matters more than the output.
Don’t get me wrong, I still hold myself to the goal of finishing and publishing this book by the end of this year. That why I exert all of this effort. But as the prerequisite of publishing a book is actually having a written manuscript, it will pay off to focus on the process of writing the book, rather than on the act of finishing the book.
Sticking with it paid off. I connected the new parts with what was already written, and though I see a good deal of work for the fourth draft, in this current third draft there are many good things I can work with to shape the story. I am blessed to find myself in the luxurious position of having to whittle away the excess marble as I carve out the true story from the 65K words now on paper.
Where do I stand today? I’m about 75% into the 3rd draft. At this stage I know that I will want to rewrite what now are the two pre-final chapters. The climax as wrote it in the first two drafts is not satisfying enough for me as an author, nor does it tie in well with the plot as it has developed during this rewrite. The main theme is still there, as are the key characters. The unfolding and intensity of the events as they unfold just needs some work. As I see it today.
Wherever you are, if you are writing and focussed on the end result, just remember: let the process work for you. Results will follow.