Wasting Time or Getting Sidetracked.

Do you have a dream of writing fiction and selling it?

I have a dream of writing fiction about “strong characters facing challenges and overcoming them by making good decisions”, without all the touchy-feely emotional writing that is available in the bookstores today. Stories I would read again and again, like I read the Pern or Saga of Recluce or Valdemar series. If you don’t recognise the names, Google them.

If you have dreams of writing good stories as I do, what stops you from sitting in a chair in front of a computer and writing? Do you have a plan or routine worked out for when you write and when you participate in the rest of your life? Or do you just wing it and write when you feel creative?

One writer I met through an online course “How to Write a Bestseller” stopped writing a Sci-Fi novel to take a degree in writing. I do understand his frustration with the course because it promised much but only delivered a beginner course, not all the details needed to complete a 90k novel. I advised him of both HTTS and HTRYN and how they opened my eyes to all areas of writing. He said he needed to undertake the degree, so would stop writing his story to spend every spare moment learning each subject of the degree. So, is his dream to get the degree?

Another writer has two books almost finished, but stopped to take a few more courses to improve certain areas in his knowledge. What is his dream? Hopefully, to learn how to make his stories better, because from what he discussed of his novels, they are good and I am waiting to read the final drafts.

I noticed many of the students that took Holly Lisle’s two writing courses have not finished novels. They seem to have let life get in the way of their dreams, or lost interest in the story half way through, or finished the first draft but did not bother to revise the story.

I know that How to Think Sideways teaches how to plan your novel, how to work through the middle of the story and how to get a good ending. What I don’t understand is why some students of that course do not put into practice all the tools taught to complete their project. Why not? Maybe their dream changed from writing good stories to something else, or maybe they got sidetracked.

Now, if all the above mentioned writers still wrote 4 pages each and every day, they would have 4 novels at the end of the year, each 365 pages long. That is another author’s calculations, not mine. I know they would still need time during the year to edit their stories to make them the stories they thought they were telling when they wrote their first drafts.

Writing each day is what improves my writing skills, not taking another course. I know, I took so many courses over the years, thinking each course I found would improve my writing skills. They did improve my knowledge, (at a cost) but did not improve my writing skills. What improved my skills was writing. Each story I complete is better than the last. I can see the improvements and my beta readers comment on my improved skills.

I realised while typing in the changes in my latest revision that I am stepping closer to my dream of writing and selling good fiction stories that I want to read but can’t find in the book stores.

So, are you hooked on learning about writing, instead of writing?

Are you busy searching for the magical course that will somehow transfer the correct bits of knowledge to your brain to make writing easier?

Do you spend time each day researching to improve your business of writing or spend time just keeping up to date with twitter, latest TV serials, latest gossip about acting, or sports celebrities, or that wedding?

I question every action I take. Reading blogs either have to improve my business management skills, marketing management skills, revision procedures, research for a story, etc, or it is a time waster. I have narrowed down my time reading blogs to an hour or two a week. When I next update my time management routine, I will only read blogs at the weekend, instead of first thing each morning. I need to subscribe for notification when a new article is added to the list of blogs I follow, not check them every day in case I missed something. Also, I know I need to set my timer for one hour and when the alarm goes off, stop reading blogs, or I will slip so easily into wasting time.

How much time do you take reading blogs or twittering? Be honest? Calculate out the time and write it down. Think of how many pages you could have written in the same time. Which action will lead you closer to the goal of your dream to write fiction good enough to sell?

Or are you wasting time getting sidetracked?


3 comments so far

  1. Angela/Curiocat on

    I thought of something while reading your blog. Show don’t tell. Isn’t telling what we do when we get sidetracked from the actual writing by writing courses, twitter and the like? We should be showing our work and not telling about it.

    Thanks for the great post.

    • djmills on

      I do waste time. Even today. I was glued to the TV rejoicing alongside everyone else, instead of working on my revision. 🙂 Now back to writing!

  2. Lisa on

    Hi Diane,
    I’ve just written a blog post that relates in a small way to this one of yours.


    I can’t speak for everyone, but I have discovered that for me and my stalled novel the problem is one of process and not craft as I originally thought. 21 Secrets, the art journalling course, plus Randy Ingermanson’s post on “writing the way you were meant to write” have helped me see this. 🙂

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