>Following on from Tuesday’s post, I asked Jenny Storm (aka Devon Ellington) how she motivated herself to write something without a contract in place when she is usually so busy meeting other “actual” deadlines.
by Jenny Storm
I want to write, whatever pulls me. Everything sells eventually, so I don’t worry about it. The pull of the story is the most important thing. And it’s a reality of the industry. Until you have a solid selling track record in fiction, it’s very rare to sell it on a proposal and the first few chapters.
If you want to write fiction, you have to write and sell SEVERAL novels, and they have to sell WELL before you can land a contract on a proposal. If you want it badly enough, you learn how to manage your time to write your fiction and keep up with other client projects. As far as projects, 1,000 – 1,500 words per day is my usual pace on fiction. If a contract forces a faster pace, I’ll do it, but that’s a steady, comfortable pace. It took me a few years to figure it out, but now that I have it, it works. Sometimes I’ll catch fire and write 2,500 – 3,000 words, but my goal is at least 1K a day, with what I call the “Primary Project” as the first one attacked in the morning, before I’m “tainted by the day”.
If I’m juggling two or three novels, I prioritize them, do my first 1 – 1.5 on one, shower, eat breakfast, go back and do the next project or two, and then start dealing with email, client projects, etc. I write best creatively in the morning, so mornings are for fiction. Practical writing works better in the afternoons.
Some days, contract or not, it’s a trudge, but I don’t have to cajole myself or trick myself. I am a writer. This is what I do. This is how I pay my bills. No excuses. Get it done, send it out, and it might not hit pay dirt the first time, but eventually, it will find a good home and earn its creation.
I get very impatient with writers who “don’t have time” to write. It means they don’t want it enough. And so many use their families as an excuse not to write, especially if they have a spouse or partner’s income on which to rely. Believe me, when it’s all up to you, you put your butt in the chair, and you write until you’re done, and you get it out there. Or you don’t eat, and you don’t pay the bills.
Arthur Miller was absolutely correct when he told me I’d never be a “real” writer until that’s what I relied on to pay the bills. I didn’t have the courage to take his advice at the time, staying within the safety of the theatre, but once I made the leap, I completely understood what he meant. The stakes are entirely different.
Writer’s block is a luxury of the unpublished or under-published.
Jenny Storm publishes under half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction. She’s been a fan of horse racing since the age of 7, and collects YA mysteries from the early twentieth century.