Returning to Writing: A Manifesto

For the last couple years, I’ve been having an extended period of unproductivity in my fiction writing. I’ve managed a few short stories, but they’ve been very sporadic, and work on my books has ground to a screeching halt. This is due to some personal issues that are not really appropriate for discussion on a public blog, but the point is not much is getting done.

When I stopped writing, I was a little less than halfway through a new series, which I consider to be my life’s work, having been developing it for the last twenty years. I’m tentatively calling it The Soulcleaver Saga, and it’s set in the universe of The Wounding and Lady of the Dawn, both of which tie into the books.

The issues in my life that derailed my work on it have not abated — if anything they’ve worsened — but I think the time has come to stop making excuses and get back to work regardless. Therefore, I am developing a new schedule to that end.

For the record, I’m not posting this to boast or show off that I’m “hashtag am writing” or whatever. I’ve been at this long enough to know most of my blog readers aren’t interested in my fiction (no judgment; you’re not obligated to). I’m posting this because if I put all this out in a public form, I’ll lose face if I don’t follow through. I’m deliberating shaming myself into working.

My plan is thus:

  • I will do seven hours of writing work per week. In theory, one hour per day, but with the flexibility to maybe skip one day and catch up later or something. This idea shamelessly stolen from Ashley at Robo♥beat.
  • “Writing work” is defined as actually writing, revising, proofreading, or doing major plotting or world-building (IE coming up with new stuff, not just writing down things I’ve already defined in my mind).
  • During this hour, I will not use the Internet except for research or Internet radio. No distractions.
  • I may skip days due to illness or other extreme/unusual circumstances, but I will try to keep such instances to a minimum.
  • I will prioritize fiction over working on my blog. I don’t think there will be much conflict or that my posting schedule will be much affected, but I’ll mention it just in case.

My goals are:

  • To rewrite the first two Soulcleaver books with more depth and detail, among other changes.
  • To complete the remaining three Soulcleaver books.
  • To rewrite and republish Rage of the Old Gods. It was the first book I wrote, and I believe I can now do better in some ways, especially regarding the beginning, which I’ve never been happy with. I may also revisit the later books in the series, but right now I’m pretty content with them, and I’m not sure they need to change.
  • To write any good short story concepts that occur to me along the way, especially if they are part of the Soulcleaver universe.

I do not promise to complete those goals in that order, or any order. Only that they will eventually all get done. Once they are completed, I will give myself permission to resume giving up, if desired.

Because I like to procrastinate, this new schedule will begin on the first Monday after this post is published.

I have several reasons for doing this, but one utterly outclasses all others: My father. While it is likely he will be around for many years to come, and I certainly hope he will be, the fact is he’s not going to live forever, and I don’t think I could live with myself if he didn’t see the completion of my life’s work. I want to get it done while there’s still time.

My writing was never meant to be about me anyway. I lost sight of that over the years. True creativity must be unselfish, I think.

For the two of you who are still reading this, I leave you with one of the main characters of the Soulcleaver series, as recreated in Black Desert Online.

Seesha Avallen, Elven RunnerI’m coming home, Seesha.

5 thoughts on “Returning to Writing: A Manifesto

  1. Write yourself into your characters and your world. That’s the self-ish part. Your readers may never know it, but you will.

    • You have to be careful with that. Go too far, and you’ll lose perspective. The story falls apart.

      I had that happen with one character. He had too much of myself in him, and I couldn’t make good decisions about him anymore. Had to kill him off.

      • Absolutely. I guess I meant writing bits of yourself into it. I usually imbue characters with personal sentiments, opinions, emotions, and so forth. I’d never go so far as to put myself in something I’ve written, however. I write to escape myself.

  2. Are there any apps that you would recommend to help you keep on track with this stuff? I’ve been trying to get my girlfriend to get back into writing after having our baby, but it’s been hard for her.

    • I’m totally the wrong person to ask, I’m afraid. I organize almost everything in my mind, or, at best, some highly chaotic notes written in a shorthand that would appear to be utter gibberish to anyone else.

      I’m sure such apps exist, but I know nothing of them.


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