Focus On the Process

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my writing process lately. I’ve been kinda stressed about it and I’ve discovered that I spend a lot more time that way than I’d like. Writing is supposed to be fun, not about feeling like you’re drowning.

As serendipity would have it, I ran across Scott William Carter’s latest blog post and he happened to be talking about this very same topic. Here’s what he had to say:

But chance is a huge influence and always will be. That’s why the longer I’ve been writing, the more I’ve tried to stop focusing on goals that hinge in any fashion on luck. I’ve always been a proponent of focusing on what you can control and not on the things you can’t — how well books sell, money, awards, reader response — but lately I’ve taken it farther. This may sound a bit radical to those of you steeped in the Napoleon Hill way of looking at the world, as I once was, but I’ve tried to remove results from the equation at all. Instead I focus entirely on process. Not just a little, but entirely. I mean I’ve tried to remove all “destination goals” from my mind.

He goes on to say…

The crux of it is this: It is possible to be a writer who is driven by the work itself and not the world’s response to it. It is possible to make your goals entirely about pages written, books read, other writers studied, etc, without attaching other destination goals to the back end… The actual results won’t change, but man, you’ll be a lot happier.

This bears repeating again:

It is possible to be a writer who is driven by the work itself and not the world’s response to it.

This is where I need to be.

So I’m thinking that it might best if the reporting, accounting and all the overhead that the business of selling books requires gets done once a month. After the month closes, I do all that data entry and analysis. I run my business.

The rest of the time, I focus on the books. More precisely, the process. That means when writing the first draft I embrace that process. I focus on it. I enjoy it. Same with outlining and revising. Slow down and focus. Stop worrying about due dates and sales figures and reviews.

Isn’t that why we write anyway? Isn’t that the reason we first entertained the idea of creating people who never lived and worlds that never existed? To communicate thoughts, ideas and feelings?

Isn’t it possible that the books will improve as a result?

I think they will.

And instead of the writing process slowing, I think it’ll speed things up. The more fun the process is, the more I’m inclined to do it.

Now that February is closed out, I’ll update my data warehouse and my reports and then I’ll put it away for the rest of March. It’ll be interesting to see how March production fares using this new mindset.

I’m looking forward to it.


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