I'm actually supposed to be writing, not talking to you. So why are you hearing me? Let's talk about that in this episode of Horrible Writing.
Welcome to Horrible Writing. The rawest, most candid, in your face writing show on the interwebs, because none of us have time to suck. Let's do this.
Hey everybody. Paul Sating, your host. I hope this finds you well.
Remember that song, "So you had a bad day . . ." Remember that one? Yeah, I'm having a bad day. A very bad day. Now, one: I woke up above ground, so that's a good thing. That's a good start. But, two: because life is real, and real-life happens, I wasn't physically feeling good.
During my writing time, those of you who have followed the show forever - or hang out on the Horrible Writing Writer's Support Group on Facebook; why aren't you there yet? - you know me pretty well. And you know that my days start at 4:45 in the morning. That's when I get up, and I write uninterrupted until I've got to get ready for work. Because real life, right?
I'm not one of those people who gets to write for a living. Wish I was. I'm not, so I still work. So I've got to get up super early to do that. I woke up not feeling good - migraine stuff - right? And it doesn't matter. Get out of bed, and get it done. Dedication. Discipline. Drive. It's what it's all about.
So I'm slogging through edits of The Scales, which is a horror novel I hope to have out in 2019. I will. I'm being tongue in cheek; facetious. But it was painful today. And I'm talking - I'm nearing the last third of my editor's edits. So all the structural stuff that she had problems with earlier have been addressed and for the most part - and I'm going through, and it's formatting stuff - it's little sentence stuff. I mean, adding some color where she doesn't think I didn't color it enough. Things like that that don't require a lot of brainpower necessarily. Especially since I've been working on that story on and off since 2016; it is now June of 2019. You'll hear this late July, early August of 2019. So we're talking three years. Right? So, therefore, not a whole lot of brainpower needs to go into it. So that stuff aside, slogging through it.
My kid slept in late. That - basically I had to go wake her up a half-hour before she was already supposed to be at work type of thing. So that threw me off. And as I was coming back to the office, I thought, "Screw it, I am done working on that." This combination of things going on just isn't worth it. I'm going to do an episode about what I'm going through right now. So I stopped my writing. And during my writing time I'm talking to you. Now, that may not sound like much to some of you. But those of you who are long-time listeners - who are fans of the show, or other shows that I have, or are, again, like I said, part of that Facebook group - you know how seriously I take my writing time. Unless the house is burning down, it doesn't get interrupted. But yet, today, I self-interrupted so I could talk to you. Why?
Because - I answer the faceless person behind the question - too often, I see people quit. People give up on writing. And even if they don't permanently walk away, they disappear for years at a time. Or maybe even worse, they internalize all this junk, all this toxicity, all this self-hatred, right? And it just boils up until it blows up one day. But until it blows up, it continues to take an effect on them. It has that negative impact, and I really don't want that for the writing community. And the Horrible Writing family. So it was time to do this episode.
Often you'll hear me talk about mindset. Look. I am not a paragon of positivity by any stretch of the imagination. I'm very much a realist. And that's a joke for those who know me because I've had discussions where I had to confront a relative about being a pessimist. And I said I wasn't a pessimist; I was a realist. We see the word for what it really is, and we don't try to paint rainbow and sunshine and roses over everything because there are horrible things. There are dark things. Why pretend that they're not there? I'm just very real about life. Existence.
So one of the things I struggle with myself is ensuring that my mindset is healthy and positive, and future-focused. I can't get too lost in whatever I'm going through in the moment. Because those things can become runaway trains. You know, you bury that crap; it becomes part of the subconscious. You start filtering your entire world view. Your self-perception - your perception of others - through this stuff that you start amassing. And if you reinforce it, it just becomes a stronger, and stronger, and stronger filter through which you exist.
I'm not a mindset guru. I'm not. I do self-help reading; self-help stuff, right? But I'm not the whoo-whoo stuff type of self-help person. Mindset is where things start for you as a creator. You need that flexibility. You need that space to be creative. There's real things that happen in life all the time. All of us. Even the most successful writers - stuff was happening to them. But yet, they persevered; they pressed on. Some of them became successes; some of them became massive successes. Of course, that's all relative. Success to one person isn't necessarily success to another; vice versa. But for them, they were successful.
When was the last time that you stopped and thought about your mindset and how it can negatively impact you and have a lingering impact on your writing?
And I wanted to use this morning as an example to address that because I thought when it happened this is a perfect opportunity to talk about it on the show. Because I could sit there and really go down a dark hole. Because anybody who's ever edited a book of yours - theirs; like you editing your own book - you know how frustrating that can be. You know how sick and tired you are of that story. By the time it goes out to the public. And when it goes out to the public, there's still work you could do on it, right? But you let it go, hopefully.
All of us need to learn how to let these things go and move on to the next thing. Having or being - if your still an aspiring writer, aspiring author, you're a new writer, you haven't published yet, you may not have experienced this yet, or you may have, and you yo-yo -you bounce back and forth. As you do these things - editing longer works that you're involved in for a very long time - you can become despondent at certain points. You really can. It's frustrating. You have to sustain, which is why I'm hitting on a lot of sustainment elements in recent episodes. I hope you've noticed. If you're new - welcome; go check out the older stuff.
Because sustainment - setting yourself up - you have to do deliberate things to be able to sustain for the long haul. People don't go run marathons without training; without building up the ability to run a marathon. That endurance - and then they still have to stretch beforehand. A lot of writers don't do that. They don't see that. "I've got a great write story. I want to write a book." And five years later they're still working on that book, or, even worse - it's sitting on a hard drive somewhere. They've completely forgotten where they've saved it to. Right? Dream crushed. Because people don't sustain.
So this morning wasn't an example of how I sustain; which is why I wanted to do this episode. Because it was a shitty day. It was a bad day of writing. And instead of forcing myself to push through the ugliness, and take that mental bettering - and I'm going to qualify this for you. Some of you might not be picking up what I'm putting down.
I stopped to record this. Meaning that there are days - most days - when something sucks. You have to have that fortitude and push through. But there are those days where you have to know yourself so well; you have to know that you have a foot on the ledge and one dangling over it, and you just happen to be standing in a pool of oil. You know that one slip sends you over the precipice. That's where I was at this morning. Because of frustrations I have with RIP - the other book that's going to come out before The Scales will - and then just The Scales. My editor's wonderful - shes really is - it's more a self-reflection. My frustration with that book is a self-reflection of things I missed in outlining that I won't repeat in the future that made this take longer than I wanted to.
You all know if you've listened to the show that I said I was published three times last year. Plan was in 2019 to publish three times. You've got to set goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals. I make folks in the Horrible Writing Writer's Support Group on Facebook - why aren't you there yet? - I make them do that as well. If they're playing along, I make them do that as well every Monday. Because you have to have those goals. You have to keep adjusting them, and they have to keep moving. You have to keep forward; you have to keep moving forward - depending on your goals, of course. Mine was this. But goals are targets. They're not objectives. Meaning if - "you either complete this, or you fail" - that's not what a goal is, right?
So I don't think I'm going to hit my three books for 2019 because I'm still learning adaptation work with RIP - that was much smoother than Chasing the Demon was. And The Scales - again, being a project that I worked on in between other projects - it showed. There's a lot of post-book work to do on it. I killed off two characters, essentially. I ramped up another one. It went from 115-ish thousand words to 75 thousand words. Forty thousand words had to be cut, and its all because of my lack of good pre-work.
I'm not a huge outliner, but I'm not a pantser. Structurally, I've learned what I missed in that first outline, and I won't repeat it again. So I've had to adjust my goals and say, "You know what? I'm okay with just doing the two books this year and maybe making serious headway on a third book. We'll see." And I'm okay in that construct - in that context of knowing that I'm not going to hit my goal most likely for the year in terms of publishing that I could stop this morning working on the book. Because again, one foot was in the pool of oil on the edge of that precipice with the other one dangling over - and if I had tried to keep plugging through, I might have got more work done; and it would have been good work.
But the self-image damage that would have been done, even if it was minimal, still would have possibly planted a seed in the subconscious that would sprout. Maybe not even take root until a year from now. Maybe not even bloom until two years from now. There's no telling, but why risk it? If you know yourself, you know your tendencies, then you can start identifying those vulnerable times - those dangerous times when your self-image of you as a creator, you as a writer, you as an author, could end up self-inflicting long term damage.
This isn't whoo-whoo folks. This is self-care for sustainability. Do you know yourself that well and how do you react? Do you push through in those times when you know you can get through this hump- get over this hump - and it's just a temporary blip? Or are there days that you know if you push through you're going to do damage to yourself? Now, of course, that should be the exception, not the rule. Most days - nine out of ten - you've got to push through. But if you're being honest - if you're disciplined, if you're driven, if you're dedicated - you'll know those days that . . . when it's perfectly fine, and actually the smarter thing to push away from the keyboard and go do something else.
It's all about sustainment. And that comes from your mindset. Being okay with "disappointing yourself," "quitting," - whatever it's called. Don't fall for that lie. Don't buy the lie. Sustainability, sustainability, sustainability. That's what going to help you create more. That's what going to help you get more books out and reach that publishing goal that you have for yourself. Whatever it may be.
I hope this candor has been empowering. Been saying it since Episode 1. Hopefully, it's working for folk out there.
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And of course ratings and reviews. Leave them if you love us. Leave them if you love us. All right. We are barreling down Episode 100. How awesome is that? Some special people are going to be part of that episode, and I'm going to talk about the first 99 episodes of the show. Reflect on our time together. Can't wait to do that one. Until next episode, keep being epic.
This has been Horrible Writing and hopefull after this episode you suck less than you did at the beginning. I am Paulsating: your host extraordinaire. You can find me over on the Twitterverse @writinghorrible, and over at paulsating.com/horrible-writing. Until next time, suck less.
Transcription by Renzee Lee over at Renzee Lee Freelancing. For fast turn around times on content writing, transcription, and editing services email Renzee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally Posted: August 2019