Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Entropy Factor

by Janis Patterson

I love writing. I love the excitement of creating my own world, my own people, and my own story. Writing is perhaps the most wonderful fun anyone can have.

Unfortunately there is a lot more to being a writer than writing, and therein lies danger, for me at least.

I admit I’m somewhat slapdash. I will write three, maybe even four novels before I even think about publishing them. That’s one of the many, many reasons I am now self-publishing almost exclusively. I don’t like bending my schedules to the dicta of others. Never have, which accounts for my erratic and somewhat colorful employment history. However – if one is going to sell books, one must have them out there, which means doing a certain amount of non-writing work.

And that’s my problem. Currently I have two novels to put out this month (a gothic romance, THE HOUSE IN THE PINES) and a traditional mystery (MURDER IN DEATH’S WAITING ROOM), another traditional mystery which is fully edited and needs only to be laid out the way I want so it can go to the formatter (MURDER AND MISS WRIGHT), and another gothic romance needing a little rewriting and polishing before entering the publishing pipeline (THE MASTER OF MORECAMBE HALL).

I am also a couple of weeks late starting the new novel, a Western romance that is as yet untitled.  And I do want to start writing so very badly – but I’ve made a rule that I don’t start a new book while in the midst of editing, etc. I’ll have four books going at once in the writing stage, but the publishing takes too much concentration and I do them one at a time. Oh, and totally aside from writing/publishing I have a family and a life that also take time.

So that’s where it begins. I hate having to do things I don’t feel like doing (yes, I am spoiled – always have been) and it’s amazing how many non-writing things simply HAVE to be done. The car needs servicing. There’s a Matterhorn of laundry accumulating. The dog has a vet appointment. I have a doctor’s appointment. The Husband wants my special pot roast for supper. There’s the yard, and the dusting constantly lies in wait, though it’s not true I could bring in a fair crop on top of the bookcases in the parlor…

See what I mean? Entropy. Once I start side-stepping, it gets easier to side-step, more and more doesn’t get done and it gets harder and harder to catch up.

So I have discovered a solution. Cheat. Last night while The Husband watched TV I sat at my desk and stared back at the basilisk glare of my computer, accomplishing nothing. I didn’t want to accomplish anything except go sit by The Husband and split a bag of popcorn while watching some mindless cop show. Instead I could not restrain myself and started on my Western romance. The words just spilled from my fingers in a joyous flood and my spirits began to lift. All of a sudden sitting at the computer seemed fun once more. I was working again.

And my decision was made. I am going to spend part of each day writing, no matter what other publisher-related chores need to be done. The hard part will be stopping, but I’m sure I can do that and go on to the other stuff. At least, I think I can. Discipline has never been easy for me. But we’ll see. I’ll let you know how it turns out.


Maris said...

I have several projects that need work, and sometimes the decision of which one to work on becomes overwhelming, and I end up doing nothing. I think you're right. I just need to sit down at the computer and do something.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

To be a writer, we simply have to make the time to write. It's a matter of self-discipline. But these days, there is so much else that draws our attention--like promotion.

Jan Christensen said...

I struggle with this all the time. I'd much rather write, and even edit, than market or do any of the other chores needed to get a book published. So, up until this year, I've always done the writing first thing in the morning, and everything else either later or not at all. This year I decided to concentrate on marketing for a while, but that's not really working too well, either. Like you, I'm ready to go back to writing every day and try to do whatever else needs doing when I can. Thanks for posting this. It's good to know we're not alone in this struggle.

Susan Oleksiw said...

I have set up a schedule of writing every morning and into early afternoon and then other tasks in the afternoon. But I still have to force myself to do the marketing stuff. I am in awe of others who do this easily and well, but I'm never going to be one of them.

Linda Thorne said...

Once I get going, I can write for hours, but it's those interruptions or peeking on social media. In my case the day job is the biggest takeaway. I found it interesting that you can write so many different types of books: western, gothic, regular mystery. I'm lucky to get one written sticking with a single genre.

The Stiletto Gang said...

I do try to write every morning, but sometimes it isn't possible. I wouldn't even begin to try and publish my own work--too old to learn how to do it all. Not sure if I would've done it if it were possible way back then, because I've become a better writer over the years thanks to all the people who have helped me along the way.