goals / writing

Writing Wednesday: Evolving My Process

Since I turned Meandering Monday into the wrap-up of my goals for 2017, all that’s left to report is last week’s activities (the last week of 2017): Blog posts & resubmissions were on schedule. I wrote 4,722 words last week, despite the Holidays – a great feeling for the end of the year.

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I have tried to hold strictly to Heinlein’s rules. I’m having some second (at least that many) thoughts about one of them. As a reminder for those of you who may not be adherent, here’s the list:

HEINLEIN’S RULES

  1. You must write.
  2. You must finish what you write.
  3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
  4. You must put the work on the market.
  5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

Since I first signed onto these in 2011 I have adhered to all of them (although I modified it slightly to accommodate the access to Indie/ePublishing that didn’t exist in Heinlein’s time (so having the work on market includes ePublishing it if a traditional publisher doesn’t buy it.)

The item that I’m rethinking is #3. I’ve stuck to my guns about this since 2011 (when I realized that the author’s perpetual rewriting trap was making it impossible to finish writing (that’s #2); It took me two years to “finish” my first short story, another year for the next one…), and once I write a rough draft and make a clean-up pass, SOMETIMES succeed in enlisting a reader, and then make a final pass with my own fresh eyes, I consider the story done. I then send the story around to various markets, and when I run out of markets (or it’s the next one on my list for a release) I ePublish it. Other than giving it a quick read-through as I’m formatting the eBook, I don’t re-examine my work. I have some reasons for considering a change:

  1. Firstly, the longer I write, the better I become as a writer (or so I hope), and the better job I can do. Of course, this is one of the reasons that some writers never finish their work (unless something is perfect, there is always a way to improve it, so when would you stop?), and so it could become a slippery slope. I can’t see myself revisiting the 70-plus short stories that I’ve ePublished without spending the rest of my life (however long that will be) revisiting them over and over again; at some point you have to finish (Heinlein #2.)
  2. Since I am ePublishing, I don’t have anyone giving me editorial demands – because in indie, I AM THAT PUBLISHER. My typical story spends at least 6-months circulating around markets before I ePublish it. If I give it a fresh look (and possible revision) once I decide to prepare it for release, I can take advantage of the fact that it’s been so long since I wrote the story that my eyes are REALLY fresh, and hopefully my 6-months-better writing skills will also add a benefit.
  3. I almost never have a beta reader for my work, and even with my operating model (consisting of 1) Write draft, 2) Revise Draft, 3) Send to readers and hope they read, 4) Wait one week and revisit the story and revise if necessary, and 5) Submit story to markets), it is embarrassing the number of times I have found simple errors when I’m formatting for eBook release. This means that I’m sending out work to Publishers and Editors with mistakes I should have caught, and I don’t know how much impact this might be having on (lack of) sales to traditional publishers.

The upshot of this is that I will change my process for short fiction to the following:

  1. Write the rough draft
  2. Revise the draft
  3. Send to readers
  4. Wait one week and reread and revise
  5. Set the story aside for one month, then reread and revise again
  6. Send the story to markets
  7. One more look (and possible revision) before ePublication.

When I first established my process, it was to improve my pitifully low productivity. Now that I’ve proven to myself that I can produce stories pretty consistently, it’s time to introduce checks on that production to make sure I’m also ensuring quality. This is a difficult, but necessary change for me to ensure continual improvement. And since my self-analysis depends heavily on metrics, I’m also going to allow the word-counts of the additional revisions to add to my production counts – this will give quality control more weight – it is part of writing, after all.

Just saying…

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My next ePub release date is January 19th. Still need to pick the story and get to work on it.

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SleepWithTheSnowmenCoverWilliam Mangieri’s writing – including his latest ePublication “Sleep with the Snowmen” – can be found in many places, including:
• Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri
• Createspace (if you prefer physical books):  https://www.createspace.com/pub/simplesitesearch.search.do?sitesearch_query=william+mangieri&sitesearch_type=STORE
To CONNECT WITH HIM (and LIKE and FOLLOW), go to
• His site on WordPress:  https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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