Getting Over Lazy

I’ve been writing a fair amount in the last month, but when I looked at the results in terms of finishing projects, it doesn’t look so good.  I’ve finished two things in the last month. Two.  Not exactly on target with where I want to be by the end of the year.  It’s time to quit being lazy and work on the second of Heinlein’s Rules: finish what you write.

It’s easy for me to finish short stories generally.  Once I’m writing one, I tend to just get it done (usually within one or two sittings).  Novels are tougher to finish, though the endings so far of them are a lot easier than the beginnings and middles.  I’ve been tinkering between two novels lately, getting some done on each but not really making huge progress with either.  Part of this is fear.  Once I’m done, I have to send it out.  I’ve worked out a way to overcome that fear by putting together the package for each novel before I finish, so at least that part of the work will be done so I can just focus on getting the book done.

The other part of this is just sheer laziness.  I like to work in bursts, when stuff “comes” to me because I’m lazy and making my brain focus and compose is annoying if I’m not in the mood.  Yep, just lazy.  I know it is laziness because if I have deadlines (real or imagined), I have no problem dumping the “must be in the mood” and getting the work done.  I think I can combat my current lazy with some good old habit-forming.  I like to take days off writing, but for the next while, I’m not going to.  I think I need to build up a nice streak, get in the habit of not letting myself take days off (usually I justify days off because I know I *can* write 10k words in a day to catch up if I have to).  So starting today, I’m going to get in at least 3,900 words of fiction a day at least 6 days a week, with the seventh day goal being 1,250 words.  At that pace I should be able to finish everything I want to finish by the end of the year.  It really doesn’t help that I keep adding things I’d like to finish to my project list.

When I started out this year, I was thinking I’d write four novels and get to 30 or so short stories out to markets.  Then I kept having novel ideas, so it turned into five novels.  Then because of a conversation at one of the workshops, I decided I was going to aim for 80 short stories on top of that.  I’ve since revised that down to 40 or so shorts, not because I don’t think I could write 80, but because at 27 I’m already a little sick of the admin work of keeping track of them so I don’t accidentally sim-sub or something that I think 40-50 will be the max I want to track at a time (and it’ll be a level that, god forbid, if I start selling some, I can replace them).  And on top of that, the novel ideas just keep pouring in.  I’ve shunted four over to next year already.  I’m aiming at seven this year (two of which are shorter, one 50k, one 65-75k).  Frankly, I’d love to slow down, but my brain won’t let me.  See why I can’t afford to continue being fearful and lazy?  I don’t have time!  At the least I’ll be getting a lot of practice in and hopefully improving.

Current projects and current word count:

MG novel- ~12k

Suspense/Crime novel- ~8k

Sci/fi novel- ~7k

Sekrit Experiment project- ~1k

Paranormal Mystery, Horror Western, Irish Historical, and Regency Romance- no words yet

Also have one novella that stands at ~1300 words and another that had nearly 5k on it (which I haven’t touched in a year since I really need to redraft the whole beginning, grr).

So… plenty to finish.  I should get on that.

4 Responses to “Getting Over Lazy”

  1. Alex J. Kane

    If you think that your current “system” is becoming overwhelming (that “laziness” is often the result of too much stress, I think), maybe you should consider limiting yourself to 2-3 “projects” at a time. That way, you could be working on one or two shorts at a time, while simultaneously progressing on a novel, and then start a new project when you get the other ones fleshed out and finished. Merely an opinion, of course, but it would seem a more organized and — for me, personally — more productive way of working.

    I know if I started 5 novels, at least 2-3 of them would probably never get finished.

    • izanobu

      Heh, if I started 5 at a time, that probably would be a little overwhelming. I’m currently working on two, not five, and really mostly on one. I like having two projects going so that if I get stuck on one I can go work on another. The Sekrit Experiment isn’t a novel yet, it’s just a worldbuilding bible at the moment, so it doesn’t really count into fiction words written. The sci/fi novel is something I started redrafting a year ago and have put down since I didn’t feel I had the skills yet to write it the way I wanted to. I’ll tackle it at some point. (The other novels are just rough outlines with a few notes at this point).

      Mostly I just need to start finishing stuff. I get hung up in the middle of novels (took an 8 month break between the first 50k words and the second in the novel I have on submission), and I’d like to break that habit. Hence the daily wordcount of at least 3900 🙂

      • Alex J. Kane

        Yeah, nothing wrong with taking notes on ideas and fleshing them out beforehand by outlining. Probably the best way to do it, really.

        I also currently have a novella/novel idea “shelved,” as I feel it’s too underdeveloped at this point, and I also feel as if I’m not skilled enough as a storyteller to do the idea justice at this point in my life.

        Daily word count is good to have, but I find mine fluctuates back and forth between 1,000 to 3,000 words/day. I, too, am also guilty of taking days off throughout the week — but if I produce a manuscript per week, I’m hard-pressed to consider myself lazy. It’s finishing and mailing that’s most important, obviously.

      • izanobu

        Alex- yeah, but you have other things to do, I imagine (being in school and all). Remember that my day job *is* writing. 3,900 words works out to 3.5 to 4.5 hours of writing for me, which is a pretty short work day all things considered. (6 days a week + the short amount on the 7th days will work out to about 26 hours of writing a week, again a pretty short week). For me it isn’t a matter of finding the time to write, it’s a matter of not being lazy and getting my butt in the chair. I’ve got the time, I launched writing as my career full time about a year ago (once I’d dropped out of my MFA program). The way I see it, this is a small business I’m creating and if I don’t put in the hours, I’m never going to show much profit 🙂

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