I’ve asked myself this before. Do I write enough?
This is a VERY subjective question. Enough writing for me might be too much for you and not enough for someone else.
I am currently reading Craig Martelle’s Become a Successful Indie Author: Work Toward Your Writing Dream. It’s been both an enlightening read — but also a bit disheartening.
Why? Because it has caused me to ask the question: Am I writing enough? Mr. Martelle writes a LOT. Like lots and lots and lots. The man is publishing a book a month or so. He is the consummate professional indie author. He succeeds where I am aiming to and makes his living writing professionally.
Mr. Martelle tends to write (apart from the above-mentioned non-fiction) sci-fi series. Because he puts out lots of books a year, he has built a following and developed a profitable brand.
I, on the other hand, went 7 months between releases — and that was nonfiction to fiction. Before that, my last fiction — which was Steampunk — was released in 2016. Four years passed before I put out the first Void Incursion novel.
I am preparing to release the 2 ndVoid Incursion novel, Critical Position, on November 9 th. I also received my standalone fantasy novel, Infamy Ascending, back from the editor. Now I have an artist working on a cover for it. It will be released on December 7 th.
That will bring me to 3 books this year — but my next planned book release is May 2021 (book 3 of The Void Incursion — Strategic Crush).
Compared to someone putting out a book a month — am I writing enough?
That way lies madness
Almost everyone makes comparisons. Many are material. Is my car better than your car? Do I have a nicer home than you? Do you dress better than I do?
Then there are the physical comparisons. Are they thinner or fatter than me? Is his dick bigger than mine? Are her eyes prettier than mine?
But then you reach the immaterial, utterly subjective comparisons. Their book sold 2000 copies and my better book sold 20 copies. He has 1000 friends on Facebook — but I have 1500. She’s writing 6 books a year and I am only writing 2.
The point, whatever comparisons you make, is that that way lies madness. Why? Because comparison is as pointless as blame.
So what if he’s richer, she’s cuter, and they’re better connected? Maybe they are examples for a level you desire to reach or a goal you would like to attain. But you don’t know how they got from where they were to where they are. Maybe they struggled a lot — and maybe not.
Like blame, comparison denies accountability. Comparison can likewise turn into avoidance. It can be a product of a lack mentality. They succeeded — so they took it all and I can’t have my own. Which, of course, is bullshit.
Before you get caught up in a loop of comparison, consider your circumstances and how you work.
How much writing am I doing?
First, I need to take into account that I maintain a blogging schedule. I post twice a week to my blog, 5 days a week on Medium, and one day a week on my author website. Most of these articles are between 1000 and 1500 words each. That means that weekly I am putting out between 5000–7500 words just by blogging.
That adds up. Over a year I am writing between 260,000–390,000 words.
When I look at it from that perspective it’s a lot of words. While this is quantifiable, my fiction work is much less defined.
I know, for example, that last week I wrote about 3500 words between The Void Incursion and outlining a new sci-fi idea. This was a good week for me — but not entirely typical. Yet it brings my weekly wordcount up to between 8500–11,000 words. That, in turn, brings my yearly word count up to between 442,000–572,000 words.
This is the first time I have ever quantified my word count.
However, it also places it into a stark reality. If my novels tend to be between 50,000 and 65,000 words (not counting the Source Chronicles series and their wordcounts over 150,000 words) then I should, in theory, be able to put out between 7–10 books a year.
EXCEPT — that is factoring my nonfiction. Fiction alone, if I am writing (this is a guestimate) 2500–3500 words a week, that comes to 130,000–182,000 words a year — hence I should be able to output 2–3 books a year.
So far, so good. But the question is — can I do better? As far as I am concerned, yes, I believe I can.
Honing the writing practice
This is not for everyone. That much is abundantly clear.
In addition to writing, there is time to be given to editing. Then there is the work that goes into publishing. And then there is my least favorite part — promotions, marketing, and sales. All part and parcel of the indie author gig.
If I intend to churn out 4 books a year at this point, I need to increase my daily wordcount. And that, based on everything I have read, is the key.
One day at a time
That’s the key. If I know my current wordcount — which I do — I know my base. If I am putting out approximately 3000 words of fiction a week, that’s 600 words a day. So, if I am writing a nonfiction article a day around 1500 words — in an hour or two — I can make the time to double my fiction writing time.
How? By being more cognizant of my time. I can alter my focus and manage my time better. Thus, I can easily do 1200 words of fiction a day.
Five days a week, 1200 words a day is 6000 words a week. Hence, 312,000 words a year. Which in turn means I should be able to increase to 4–6 books a year.
That’s 5 days a week of writing. I could choose to write 6 or 7 days a week. I am my only limitation here.
How much writing is enough? That question varies from author to author and is dependent on intent, practice, goal, and more.
If I ask myself — Am I writing enough? I can see that the answer is no. I can write more.
Is that what I desire to choose? Well, if writing is my career choice then it’s a no-brainer. I can and should write more.
Writing is love
Remember, the above is about me and my work. You may not be aiming to make writing your career. Maybe it’s just a hobby. If you like your day job and just write on the side, you write enough.
It’s pointless to compare yourself to anyone else. Why? Because we all have different goals. Seeing here that I could easily write more, I am resetting my goal. How come? Because I want to take my work to the next level.
More writing = more published works.
As I write more, I improve my writing. I know that there is ALWAYS room for improvement. Also, growth and change are a natural part of life.
How I write now is not how I wrote just a few years ago. That’s because more practice has made me better. And there is still plenty of room to continue improving.
Writing more is not going to be painful. I love to write — that’s why I do it. Having this analysis of how much I am writing has informed me that I can do more and do better. Your definition of writing enough will vary from mine.
Can I reach the same level of output as Mr. Martelle? I don’t know. But neither do I know if I want to. His definition of writing enough is different from mine. And comparing myself to him serves nobody.
Yet I see that, for me, more writing is necessary. That’s how I can achieve my goal. YOUR mileage may vary.
Thank you for being a part of my ongoing journey.
Originally published at https://www.mjblehart.com on September 12, 2020.