Skip to main content

The Importance of Staying Focused.

When you're writing, it's easy for me to get distracted.

I'm not just talking about the Internet and family and work and everything else that can come up while you're at your notebook and keyboard, although that's also a danger for distraction.

I'm talking about with other stories.

I'm currently 30k words into my new novel. It's a fantasy epic and I'm probably not even a third of the way through the book. I know there's a lot of hard work coming to get it finished and there's a lot of words I'm going to need to write. I'm still passionate about it and I love it. The setting is fascinating, I'm really happy with the characters, and as far as story and action it might be the most exciting thing I've ever written.

But I'm a writer. I have lots of ideas. Ideas tumble out of my head a dozen a day, at least. And some of them are, I think, really good. Some of them are so good I get really excited about them. And now, as I'm slogging through the hardest part of a novel for me, the middle, my mind is starting to wander about possibilities about other books in completely different settings. I'm writing fantasy, so naturally my brain would rather be writing a science fiction story. I'm writing prose, so I brainstorm a screenplay I want to write. There are a lot of projects I can work on, but the trick is learning how to stick to one until it's done.

Neil Gaiman said, "You have to finish things. That's what you learn from, finishing things"

And I think that's 100% true. I've learned so much every time I finish a project, because I know what to look for the next time I'm starting a story and not make the same mistake twice. So even though my mind is wandering, I have to force myself to stay focused on this project in order to finish it. There are writers who can write only when the fancy strikes them and they'll do okay, but I'm not one of them. Mickey Spillane was one of them.

I interviewed Max Allan Collins about Spillane's process, he talked about how Spillane could only work on things in the white heat of passion and would abandon it if it couldn't keep his attention. He left scores of manuscripts behind for people like Max Allan Collins to finish, which is fine if you're Mickey Spillane, but no one will want to come back and finish my manuscripts after I'm gone. So I have to finish everything.

So how do I cope?

This is why I write in my notebook every morning as a warm up to my prose writing. I put all these ideas down on paper so I don't lose them. And when I don't write them down, I DO lose them, no matter how good they are.

This process allows me to modestly explore the ideas, fuel more creativity, and put them down in a place that will allow me to explore them later.

Maybe it's not the best system, but it's certainly effective in keeping me on track.

As for my writing, I've been hard at work on two different mystery projects that I'm not allowed to talk about yet. And I've been plugging away on my fantasy novel. I've been working on revisions for the Aeronaut as well. I think it's finally getting there. Calculating it out, I've written every day for last 45 days and have averaged 1,626 words per day across each of these projects. It's the most consistently prolific I might have ever been and I hope to keep this pace up in perpetuity.

I was also interviewed by Holly Frey from Stuff You Missed in History about my book in advance of our live event. It's about "A Children's Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination" and you should watch it:



Then we have our regular reading event at the downtown Salt Lake City Library tomorrow night. Write Out Loud! is a chance for writers to get together and read their own work and get a little bit of constructive criticism, but it's also a place for readers to gather and have stories read to them.  Here are the details.

If you haven't already picked up a copy, this is a reminder that I have a new short story in the Silence in the Library Anthology "Contact Light." It's now available in paperback as well as digital. 

I've also had a new piece come out for StarWars.Com. This time I take a look at how Charlie Chaplin and his film "The Kid" had an influence on Star Wars, in particular my favorite Gungan, Jar Jar Binks. Read that piece here and be sure to let me know what you think, so long as you remain civil.

That's it for this week.  As far as my work outside of all this: I'm keeping busy for Big Shiny Robot! and Full of Sith. 

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Art and Politics

Art is inherently political.

Let's just get that out of the way. We all have things we want to say (or things we want to not say) in our personal lives that shape the art we make. And artists, more often than not, are trying to say something with their art, even if their goal is to not say something.

There is no doubt that this has been a turbulent week in the country I live in. There are many of us that are confused and shocked and afraid of what might be to come in the future. That's understandable. As artists and writers, I feel like we're typically more empathetic than the general population. It's easy to think about what it's like to be in someone else's shoes because we spend so much of our creative time almost literally in someone else's shoes. And we need to pass that understanding on to our readers or viewers or however else they're consuming this art.

I've seen this troubling idea, though, that art needs to be purely for escape and that p…

Anatomy of a Scene - City Lights

We're going to break down another scene this week, and it's one of my favorites in cinema history. It comes from the ending of City Lights by Charlie Chaplin, which I think is the greatest romantic comedy ever made. 
It's a touching film from 1931 and I would make it mandatory viewing for anyone who wants to learn to tell a story.
The scene we're going to be breaking down comes from the very end of the film, so if you haven't seen it, I don't want to spoil it for you. Go watch the film. You can rent it for $3.99 in HD on Amazon or for free on Hulu with a free trial or plus subscription. You should just buy the Blu-ray, though. You're going to want to revisit it.
For those of you familiar with the movie, or for those of you who are going to ignore my pleas to watch it and go ahead with this post anyway, I'm going to set this clip up a bit before you watch it.
City Lights tells the story of Chaplin's Tramp and how he falls in love with a blind flower …

Salt Lake Comic Con 2016 Schedule

It's time again for Salt Lake Comic Con and I have another packed schedule. This is where I'll be occupied for much of my weekend. I would love for you to come out, see me on a panel, catch me at my signing, or just say hello.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

3:00 pm Fixing Fandom and Ending Bullying and Gatekeeping :: 150G

4:00 pm Fauxthentic History - Star Trek :: 151G

6:00 pm Star Wars Trailer Park :: 151G

8:00 pm The Life and Times of Ahsoka Tano :: 151G

Friday, September 2, 2016

12:00 pm Palpatine's Rise: The Cautionary Tale of the Star Wars Prequels :: 255C

1:00 pm Star Wars: The Life and Times of Han Solo :: 251A

3:00 pm Jeremy Bulloch :: 250A

5:00 pm Stuff You Missed in History Class Live: How Does Historical Fiction Get Made? :: 250A

6:00 pm Bryan Young Signing :: Shadow Mountain - Booth 1807

7:00 pm Adventures in Podcasting :: 251A

8:00 pm What is the Balance of the Force? :: 255F

Saturday, September 2, 2016

11:00 am Famke Janssen :: Grand Ballroom

12:00 pm The Many Fac…