That Plateau Feeling is an Illusion

The following is intended for other writers working to find their stride. I hope something in the following meanderings is useful to you as you hash out your process.

Fall is crazy, right? Halloween, Thanksgiving, School restarting, Christmas, RenFaire, Dickens Faire, conventions, festivities, and all those bleeding birds nesting in my trees and eating my pears, it’s enough to make one want to accept exile to an obscure Italian island.

After my writing binge this summer, I’ve been caught perpetually in the feeling that I’m wading through treacle, and it’s been driving me bonkers. Too much time on the road, too much Real Life ™ getting in the way, not enough time podcasting, or writing, or doing any of the half dozen other things that are in the top five of life priorities.

Turns out I’ve traded up one set of problems for another. As I conquered the word-rate barrier, I ran into a bunch of other roles and problems I had to grow into right-quick. And that can take up a lot of time and even more mental space.

What problems? Well, there’s new properties to manage and market. There are old projects that went begging that needed finishing up. There are three more books to finish by the end of the year, and new short stories that refuse to wait their turn.

It’s enough to make you feel like you’re working your ass off for no accomplishments whatsoever.

So, imagine my surprise when I total up my progress for the year and discover that, even with time on the road, I’ve been consistently writing at NaNoWriMo rates or better. The binge wasn’t a fluke, it just turns out that there’s a rhythm to the way I write: 5k words one day, 10k another, 1k another, 500 words another, but it averages out to 3k a day or better, and the progress on the various projects only feels slow because that work is spread over three novels, several shorts, and two nonfiction books. But they all grow.

Lesson: The next time someone tells you that one novel a year is really fast, spit in their eye. And keep writing at whatever rate you can manage. And next time you feel like you’re not accomplishing anything, step back and take a look at the last three months. Use some kind of objective measure. Then, make a change if you need to, or power through if you don’t.

Me? I didn’t do NaNoWriMo this year, and I probably won’t do it again, but it’s not because I don’t want to write a novel in a month.

It’s because I’m already doing more than that in an average month.

Bookmark the permalink.

2 Comments

  1. Hello

    I know this is old but it bothers me so i had to say something. I am on Dealing in Episode 5 and just heard your coment about Canada and the USA being basicaly the same. well I am from Halifax Nova Scotia and well just listing to the fight on the publick health bill I can see that your atitudes are very different to Canadians. Have you spent much time in Canada and i do not mean Vancouver or Toronto. well lets be fair I realy only know the maritimes first hand and get a lot of my news from the news paper and CBC Radio.

    Thanks love the story so far. I came to it from Metamor City podcast by the way tell Chris to get a move on and I found him from Cybrosis and Prometheus Radio Theatre

    I have a long way to go to cach up.

  2. Hi Justin-

    Yeah, I’ve been across the border a few times, and have a number of friends up there–and yes, I definitely phrased that comment in the most provocative possible way to amuse my Canadian listeners 😉

    The serious part of the point is that there is less difference in culture and politics between the U.S. and Canada than there is within the U.S.–which shouldn’t be a surprise, as we share a common heritage (British Empire) and a mostly open border, and have done for a couple generations.

    Glad you’re enjoying the story so far! Hope to hear from you again

    -Dan

Comments are closed