Saturday, November 17, 2012

Week 47 - Showing Up

18 Nov - 24 Nov:
Eighty percent of success is showing up.
Woody Allen
I am 35,000 words through November and feeling the strain. My prompt notes are thinning, my brain is getting mooshy, and my pencils are breaking - and we all know that writing with a broken pencil is pointless.

And so I turn to some of my favourite inspirational quotes to push me over the NaNoWriMo finish line.

The first one by Woody Allen reminds me that persistence and productivity are everything.

How many novels do we read that make us think, Man, this writing is ordinary? I can think of three books by best-selling authors I have read recently that prompted this reaction. I am not so disrespectful that I will mention names because I know how easy it is to sit on the side-line and criticize, and how difficult it is to write a book (and they are hugely successful authors making gazillions of dollars, and I am not).

And good writers or not, the three authors I am thinking of have produced over 100 novels between them, and they are still writing. And the books I have seen or read are generally not short either.

100 novels x 100,000 words = 10,000,000 words or over 3,000,000 words each.

That's three million words for those who get scared by lots of zeros.

And here I am struggling to squeeze out 50 thou'.

Whether the authors I'm speaking of are 'good' or not, they all have two things in common.
1. They write ripping good yarns, and,
2. They show up,
and again
and again
and again.
 And even if their work isn't brilliant, it's obviously extremely popular.

Now, I don't expect to be pumping out a novel a year for the rest of my life (but then again, I might), but I won't be too thrilled with myself if I give up before I have completed my piddly effort of 50,000 words.

So with a swift kick in the pants, I'm reminding myself that, unlike clichés, this book isn't going to write itself.

Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.
Arnold H. Glasow
Brainy Quote



  1. Great article, Egg! And kudos for your excellent drive to complete the 50 thou. You've been impressive this whole month.

    I'm having similar experiences...I feel like I'm drying up at times. But I just keep writing. I was talking to Julie the other day and told her that, at this point, I'm writing pure nonsense. I'm adding tension, but I don't know if the conflict is feasible. I'm worried about anachronisms, but I write what I want anyway. If it's wrong, I'll fix it in the rewrite. I'll look up all the stuff I need to make it work. And if I can't get it to work, I'll write something else.

    I love the last quote. You've really got to set yourself on FIRE!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Ooo, anachronisms - you really are a writer. Yeah, I'm starting to write a whole heap of [insert 5-syllable word that means 'crap'], but like you, I'm just writing, writing, writing hoping that I can clean it up later.

    I thought the last quote was appropriate, i.e., it's either me or the (pretend) novel attempt that will be set on fire.

  3. Ahhh the great philosopher Woody Allen...

    I think I'm one of those ordinary writers. Honestly. I hope I can spin a good yarn while I'm at it. Despite the writing, I think that's what sells. People want a good story. You have been inspiring this month!

    1. I agree (not that you're an ordinary writer or I'm inspiring, though thanks for saying so). Most readers just want a good story, not Pulitzer-quality writing. Of course, both together would be a dream come true.

      Talking about inspiring, wow, you got some fantastic responses on your post this week, and well done to you! (And I don't use exclamation marks lightly.)

  4. ahh, woody, so good. but so are you! keep up the great writing!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. What's your site so I can reciprocate? (Google's in Japanese at the moment, so that's my excuse for not being able to figure it out.)

  5. Egg,

    Here is the deal as I see it. If it was easy to be a writer, then everybody would do it. This is hard and at some point it becomes a battle of will. Will I do or will I quit?

    I don’t write much that I really think is good. But I have three or four great scenes in the can. My challenge is to get the rest of the book to rise to that level. Honestly, it is very hard.

    I think that I am a below average writer with some talent for creating a good storyline. I think that you are a naturally great writer with an uncanny ability to make magic. All you got to do is keep plugging.

    1. Thanks, Rob. You're a trooper alrighty. You raise an interesting point: if we can write one fantastic scene, we can write a thousand. It comes down to believing it and doing it, right?

  6. Hey there,

    Those authors churning out novels are doing so as a means of income, so I doubt many of their works would be described as a labor of love. However, they are doing something right to even be in that position.

    And that is exactly why I would never be so pretentious enough to criticize a financially successful author, which has been happening to Stephenie Meyer, Suzanne Collins, and El James.

    As for your novel, keep breaking those pencils. When you and your novel are ready, would you be interested in setting up an interview for Magicellus? Here's the trick - I won't be interviewing you, I would be interviewing your character.

  7. Hey Dude - I left you a nanomail.