woman doing an eye roll

To Increase Word Count, Lose the Attitude

I recognize attitude when I see it, a teenager’s eye roll, a cat’s saunter, a waiter’s dismissive shrug. So, I received an unpleasant surprise when I evaluated my year-to-date writing progress. Instead of a completed novel, I found a big pile of ATTITUDE.

I’ve written several posts about finishing my novel. (See here and here.) It would appear I consider this a high priority project. Have I completed the revision, found an editor, and mastered self-publishing? NO. Instead I’ve ducked behind the customary amateur excuses-time, chores, family obligations. If excuses added to my word count, I’d have completed several books by now. Even if I’d revised one page per day, I’d be ready to hire an editor. Why aren’t I? Why have I given other projects precedence and allowed work on my novel to slide? Obviously, I’m in need of a major author attitude adjustment (or an old-fashioned slap upside the back of my head).

Whether it’s due to fear, incompetence, or lack of confidence, I haven’t yet managed to hobble together a revision routine. My ATTITUDE doesn’t help. It says if your manuscript needs that much work, you must not have any talent for fiction. I search for advice in blogs, writing technique books, and online classes. What do they tell me? Writers write. Sit your butt in the chair and do the work.

I DO write. I write journals, grocery lists, blog posts, scene summaries, descriptive passages, short poems, letters to friends, comments on social media posts, and pages and pages of ideas. Evidently I also harbor the misplaced belief that a wonderful novel will magically emerge from one of those scribbles. (She has such natural talent!) Although that may be a sweet fantasy, it is evidently misguided. The novel has yet to finish itself.

I do feel that I’ve made progress this year. Writing these blog posts has taught me to produce copy on a deadline, even if it is limited in scope and self-imposed. Ideas flow easier, editing and cutting are less soul wrenching. Weekly deadlines force me to be less critical of my output. It is what it is, and Thursday doesn’t wait for perfect.

Although time spent on posts is NOT time spent on novel revision, I do enjoy writing them. I feel like I am accomplishing SOMETHING. Ironic isn’t it? The purpose of a website is to build an author platform, yet it steals time from my fiction. Considering my goal review, my time distribution also requires an adjustment.

I realized my attitude needed improvement because I recently completed Maximize Your Crazy-Easy, Author Website, an online class offered by Lisa Norman. (Her first class led to the birth of this website. You can find out about classes offered on Margie Lawson’s website here.) For one month, Lisa challenged the class to consider to consider how an author’s website connects with readers. She posed questions that I hadn’t considered before. Who is my audience? Where are they online? What articles or essays would appeal to them? Have I defined my brand? If I want to find my readers these are all questions I need to consider. After I post a blog, I also need to pay attention to the feedback. Which posts have received interest or comments? Should I do more like them? The class showed me how a professional approaches and evaluates her work.

Then I received several posts and e-mails that addressed the attitude required to achieve a successful work ethic. The writing life isn’t composed of pixie dust and book signings. It doesn’t always feel “fun” or “creative” to evaluate a scene or improve a character arc. Sometimes it’s just nose-to-the-grindstone effort. An author I follow, Susan Mallery, regularly shares Facebook posts about her process. (I shared one here.) She puts in years of work before a book ever reaches her readers. She didn’t even slack off on her word goals during a recent cruise and she must deserve a vacation. I guess she’s earned those publisher perks, like a marketing team, cover designers, and champagne brunches.

I’ve struggled with my decision to post this because I don’t want it to be just one more whiny excuse. However, the truth is I won’t become a professional writer until I lose my amateur attitude. Hopefully, realizing my issue will help me reach my goal. Although any advice about how to approach revisions would be greatly appreciated! Share in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “To Increase Word Count, Lose the Attitude”

  1. Aw. Hugs.
    And you just made a huge jump towards becoming a professional author! You realized that it IS about professionalism and getting things done even when they are hard. It isn’t the grand edits done while sequestered in a weekend cabin, but the daily edit-one-page that makes these things happen. First step is having material to edit — and you have that! You’re on your way.
    You’ll get this done. It’s about professionalism and doing the hard thing.
    Another thing I’ve learned is that when a goal is too big, it can cause us to stall. Maybe try breaking that editing down a bit, or try analyzing what is hard about finding an editor. (There was a good one in your class! I also know another good one. OK editors are common. Good ones are rare…) Get it down into do-able bits, and you’ll get there!

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