I don’t make time to write

The conventional wisdom goes something like “you’ve got to make time to write.”

But my stank on that, and what I try to practice is more like: You’ve got to make time to write well.

Because self-publishing has exploded, and as a result, there’s waaaay too much crap out there. Some self-published authors are writing and publishing three, sometimes four or five new fiction books per month. Sometimes even more.

And that self-publishing explosion was taking place before AI-generated books. That stuff is flooding the market too right now, and I’m not even gonna dive into that mosh pit.

So how are so many human authors cranking out books—fiction books—like they’re pancakes?

Well, one author I heard on a podcast was writing twelve or more novels per year, and when asked what her process was, she claimed (credibly) that she—paraphrasing here—narrates her books into her phone while driving her kids to school, then has the audio transcribed, and then edits/finishes from there.

Also, if you say all that three times into a mirror, Bloody Mary appears and calmly folds her arms and says, “Bullshit.”

But believe it or not, that author isn’t alone. Thousands are churning out the pages via thousands of different workflows and processes and cheats and tips and tricks and blah blah blah. And many write faster than twelve novels per year. And while I cannot detail many more of these methods because I haven’t done much research, I can safely and self-assuredly say that they all must involve cocaine in at least some small way.

Me? Well that’s a different story. Because I’m slow.

I’m half-done with the second book in a fantasy trilogy I’m cobbling together. This book which will be my third full novel written, and I only started down the novel-writing path in 2020 (Four years ago) (In earnest. If I’m being accurate, I started writing my first novel The H-Bomb of Highroad in 2005, but I put in 90% of the total work in 2020.)

But that lack of speed is probably directly proportional to my philosophy, which is:

Not only every single chapter and every single paragraph but every single line in my book should be 100% ENTERTAINING to a reader. Every line should give them something, make them feel something, enlighten them, anger them, make them fall in love, make them question their place in the world, or make them boil their heretofore cherished beliefs in salt water. Just something. Every. Line.

My goalpost: No filler. Only killer. (aka “Don’t bore us. Get to the chorus.” —Sophocles (apoc.))

So order for all those lines, those pages, all those chapters to achieve ENTERTAINING, they need time! Time to compose, time to shape, time to finesse.

So, all that’s just to say…

When I sit down to write, I’m not making time for writing. I’m just writing. And I’m not looking at a goal of 5,000 words or 500 words or some arbitrary number of hours spent. I’m looking at composing, shaping, and finessing as best I can, however I can, whether it means typing 5,000 new words or deleting 5,000 words and starting with a better take on the chapter or sequence or scene, or more interesting / more believable dialogue.

And sometimes, if it’s been a few days since I’ve written, I even spend the time reading what I’ve already written. And that’s just so I can re-learn the voices, the cadences, the moods, the plot lines and character threads I’ve already set down. On some of those days, I do no writing at all, but I’m fresh for the next day and I can spend that next day making real progress.

So yeah, making time for writing isn’t the thing because my two pence is that MAKING TIME FOR WRITING SHOULD BE A GIVEN (for me). And because it’s a given, then quality, care, concern, detail, emotion, intelligence, surprise—all of those things become the most important thing. Things. For me. ENTERTAINING. Or go away.