A Year of Sprinting

ProductivityI’ve been using Chris Fox’s technique of sprints for about a year now, and the results are pretty impressive. Since August of last year, I’ve published five books with another unpublished manuscript waiting in the wings. I’m a quarter of the way through a new manuscript that I’ll publish before year’s end too. Plus I have a bunch of finished short stories that I’m gathering up for release sometime down the road; once I have enough to put into a collection.

I’ve written more than 380,000 new words since I started. Compare that with my old rate of production, which netted me around 80,000 words annually. Maybe 100,000 words on a good year.

That’s a huge productivity increase.

But sprints are only half of the story. I also adopted Dean Wesley Smith’s method of “cycling” and not rewriting which allowed me time to edit, proofread, and publish all those words.

I’ve had a ton of fun writing all these books this year, and I’ve learned a lot by doing. I even crossed the million words written mark, a huge achievement for me.

I’m looking forward to another great year of writing even more books. Hopefully, you’ll come along with me for the ride.

Self-Doubt

self-doubt

We all know that self-doubt will kill your creativity and your productivity faster than just about anything else. To get books finished and launched into the world, writers need to get past their self-doubt.

One technique that some writers use is to imagine their self-doubt like a troll that sits in the corner and says awful things. This troll can’t die, and it can’t escape your head. The idea is to beat that troll down until he’s barely a whisper, or withhold food and keep him on the brink of starvation; too weak and tired to talk shit. In other words, don’t feed the troll.

I subscribed to this philosophy for a long time, until I started to think about it differently. I still see the nagging self-doubt troll in the corner, no doubt, but I began digging into why he says the shit that he says. Nobody does anything without a reason; not even imaginary trolls trapped in your head.

Eventually, I figured it out. The troll isn’t your enemy.

He’s your friend.

He tells you that you’re not good enough. He says you’ll fail. He says that you’re not smart enough. He says you’re a hack.

He does this because he’s afraid for you.

Think about it. What if you try and fail? What if people write bad reviews about you? What if people think you’re stupid or untalented? What if people don’t like you? All these things are risks when you put yourself out there for others to see–and judge.

He’s trying to protect you by dissuading you from taking risks that might cause harm. Remember, he’s stuck in your head with nowhere to go. He can’t die, not until you die. So whatever you go through, he does too. He takes the punches right alongside you.

He’s not your enemy. He’s actually your best friend, but his communication skills are lacking. He’s blunt. He’s rude. He’s childish. He’s impudent. He’s crass.

Hell, he’s scared all the time; what else do you expect?

So instead of beating him down the next time he starts his shit, maybe you should console him. Pat him on his bumpy little troll head and tell him that everything is okay. Tell him that you appreciate his concern, but you got this. Tell him that if he just chills out and sits quietly, the storm will pass and everything will be okay again. You’ll take the risks and keep him safe.

Like a fussy baby, once he’s calm he’ll shut up. He’ll go back to whispering in the corner, a soft murmur that you’ll ignore while you get things done.

Once you empathize with him, you’ll understand that his words are a misguided effort to keep the both of you safe. Ultimately, instead of feeling resentment toward him, you’ll feel pity.

And as far as feelings go, resentment is a whole lot more expensive to maintain than pity.

Devil Breed Paperback Proof Is In

Devil BreedJust got the proof copy of the paperback edition of Devil Breed. It looks great, so we’re all set for the August 27th release in both ebook and paperback.

And like all my paperbacks, if you buy it you get the Kindle ebook for free.

So if you like a good monster mystery with an unexpected ending, you might want to pick this baby up.

Tell your friends, tell your family, tell the world!

Paperbacks Are Ready

booksGood news; the new paperbacks are ready to go! I now have eight novels, two novellas, and one collection of short stories all available on paper. Also, if you pick up one of the paperbacks from Amazon, you get the Kindle version for no additional charge.

This time around, I’ll have the paperback version of my upcoming novel, Devil Breed, available on August 27th, the same day as the ebook. Pretty cool, eh?

You can pick these babies up at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (Unfortunately, you can’t get the Nook ebook version included along for free from B&N like you can from Amazon.)

So if you’re interested in picking up a paperback copy of any of my books, follow this link to my books page and choose your title. Click on the Amazon or B&N link at the bottom of the page and it’ll take you right where you need to go.

 

Paperbacks

5x8_paperbackA loyal reader recently lit a fire under my ass when he when asked about Badlands #3 (Out of the Badlands) coming out in paperback. So, I got inspired and I spent the last two days making paperbacks for all my novels (and one novella) that currently do not have paperback editions.

Look for those soon; I’ll probably send something out to the mailing list about it too. I also revamped the paperbacks for Into the Badlands and Beyond the Badlands while I was at it, putting new covers on the books and fixing some typographical errors still outstanding.

In addition to Out of the Badlands, new titles coming soon in paperback are The Saint, the Sinner and the Coward, Familiar Lies, Yesterday In Black, and It Came From the Mountain.

As always, if you buy the paperback you get the Kindle edition for free. Great for gift-giving to family members who don’t have Kindles. It’s a win-win. (Remember that come the holidays.)  🙂

Productivity Boost

runnersNow that I seem to have gotten my mojo back, the words are flowing again and I’m back on track with my quotas. While I’m happy to be back in the saddle, I’ve been thinking about my current rate of production.

Currently, I produce about 40,000 words per month and I’ve been doing it for almost a year. I write for two, thirty-minute sprints each day. That nets me about 1,400 words per day, on average.

I started thinking about how I might improve upon that while still avoiding burnout. I landed on the idea of adding a half-sprint (15 minutes) to each day.

Look at the numbers: Take 1,400 words per hour, divide it by 4 and you get 350 words. Now, take 350 words and multiply that by 365 days; that’s more than 127k words per year, just by adding a single 15-minute sprint to the daily quota.

Even adjusting it down to say, 250 extra words then multiplying that by 300 days (assuming I have some off days) that’s more than 100k words by year’s end.

That’s more than enough words for an entire novel.

Do the math…it’s not about speed. It’s about consistency. Fifteen minutes a day nets me an extra novel per year and without so much extra work that it’ll burn me out (I’m a full-time programmer with a wife and kids, so I have to watch my time closely). But fifteen minutes? It’s a no-brainer. I started today and I got my extra sprint in easily.

So if you like my books, you’re in luck; there’ll now be an extra one for you each year.

Short Stories, Distractions, and More

RedlineSummer has been anything but relaxing for me. I thought I’d be able to keep up my writing streak and maintain my high levels of productivity, but I’ve dwindled down to about half of where I was during the winter months. So instead of 40,000 words per month, I’m writing about 20,000 words per month. I suppose some might still consider that a success, but in context, well…not so much.

But life intrudes. My day job hasn’t been so stable for me these days and that seems to have intruded on the serene little writing happy place I’d carved out for myself late last year/early this year. I think we all need to remember that life isn’t going to cooperate with our wishes and desires all the time and that distractions and tumult just has to be weathered like a storm. You batten down the hatches, hunker down and do the best you can until it passes.

That said, I have still made some progress. I finished Devil Breed a couple of weeks back. It clocked in around at around 200 pages or so and I like where it went. It still needs some editing and a final read, but I’m going to try to get it out before the end of August. Looking back, in the last ten months I’ve published five novels, so I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. 🙂

Outside of Devil Breed, I’m now caught up on all but one of my completed manuscripts. They’ve gone through their edits and have been released out into the wild to fend for themselves. Only a single book remains; a little novel called Vengeance In the Badlands, which I’m still trying to figure out what to do with. I’m not sure that I’m happy with it, so I’ve been sitting on it until I make some time to read it again and make a decision as to its fate. It’d be nice to have another book for sale, but I don’t want to rush it or publish something that’s not up to standards. I’ll probably make a decision by the end of the year, one way or another, but for now I’m just going to let it sit.

Since finishing Devil Breed, I’ve started two novels and ended up stalled out after only a few chapters. I think the stress of my day job and the distractions of summer have taken their toll. I also let self-doubt catch up to me again, which slowed me down a lot. And if I’m being honest, I also made the mistake of focusing too much on sales and not enough on the fun of telling stories. When it becomes about the money, I know I’ve gone off the rails somewhere.

That said, it’s time to refocus. June is gone. July is now upon us, bringing with it a blank slate and ample opportunity to get back in the saddle. With summer distractions and day job instability, it’s going to continue to be difficult to focus on a novel. So I’ve decided that instead of spending the next two months on a new novel, I’ll instead spend it writing short stories. By their very nature, they don’t require marathon-like focus and dedication, allowing me some latitude to deal with the other stuff going on for me right now. I just don’t want to lose momentum and this keeps me writing. And at the end of the summer, I’ll have another book for you once I gather all these stories into a single collection.

So with renewed focus and dedication, I should have a novel out to you by summer’s end, followed by a whole bunch of short stories. After that, who knows? I choose projects on a whim, so I couldn’t tell you what kind of mood I’ll be in after summer is over. I do, however, plan to be working on something. Until then, I’ve given you plenty to read, so check out my stuff and see if you find something you like.