Q: How do you eat an elephant?
A: One bite at a time.
Q: How do you write a novel?
A: One careful word typed after another 70,000 times.
For me that takes about a year to do. And over that course of a year, what's hard for me to is to keep motivated.
To keep focused.
To not give up.
To continue the slow slog, the grind that threatens to wear you down until you give out.
I've published three novels. A fourth is in the works.
Two simple things keep me going. Here they are.
1. One sign of life.
One book sale. One page read in Kindle Unlimited. One review. One add-to-a-shelf on Goodreads. One blog mention. One subscriber to my newsletter. One person to ask to join my reader group. One word about my work - from a stranger, from a friend, from another writer.
Yes, my visibility and sales are so little that I can actually see these things.
And I treasure them.
Any sign of life keeps me going.
When I feel like I can't get down one more word and that it doesn't matter if I do or don't write more, those signs of life nourish me. They remind me that I'm not alone and that my work is forging a connection with someone else. And that brings me to ...
2. Remembering the beginning
I started writing because a story popped into my head and I had to tell it. I had to write it down. And I fell in love with that story. And I wrote.
I didn't write for money. I didn't write to keep fans happy. I didn't write to a market. I didn't write to land an agent or a book deal. Or to even make an entry in my college's alumni magazine.
I wrote because the story was in me. I wrote because the characters needed to speak. Because I needed to breathe, and after a long day of work, and kids, and adult life, escaping into a world of my creation is a blessing. It frees me.
And it's not stressful. It's not a hardship. It's not another commitment on my calendar. Writing makes the other parts of life more bearable.
So when the slog begins to wear, when a book becomes a burden, when I just don't feel like I can look at a chapter one more time, I remind myself of my choices.
That I can chose to stop writing. But I don't want to. Not yet.
Plus One, Mae's latest book, is available on Amazon. If you're reading this blog, you'd probably like it.