Learning by doing

Some things in life, you learn by doing – there’s no substitute for practice. No amount of theory and history of the field presented in the classroom, no deep dive into the science behind it or the regulations and best practices concerning the field, can actually produce a good welder, or pilot, or shooter, or potter, or mechanic, plumber, farmer, dancer, clothing designer, loadmaster, teacher… or author.

You have to put in the time doing the work, learning the variables, seeing the results, making errors and having failures as well as successes, working in less-than-optimal conditions, and learning, always learning.

This means when Blake asks who has reference books they learned from, I had an entire shelf (I’m a geek; I like research)… but even so, I will ruefully say not only are there far better writers than me who have read far fewer books on writing, but also that I have improved most by writing. Last year, on Jan 20th, I decided I was going to write every day, even if it was only 10 words in a day. This did not go nearly as smoothly as hoped (what in 2020 did?), but after not getting a book finished since 2018, I managed to finish one book, and a novelette. Then I started on a steep learning curve of another book, one that took 8 months to finish in 2021. This year, I got a second novel, and a short story done. Even my Calmer Half, as he works at formatting the books for ebook and print, notes that I have gotten significantly better in the past two years.

I’d hoped to have a new book available for sale to show you, but KDP is objecting to… something. G-d alone knows what this time, but we’ll work our way through it, and get the latest two out.

In the meantime, I shall endeavour to keep writing, even if it is only 10 words a day.

What are your writing goals? Are you meeting them?

22 thoughts on “Learning by doing

  1. New book coming? I can’t wait! I’ve been rereading all of your books and I want a new one!

  2. Finish _White Gold and Empire_. Get the next Familiars short story set done. Get a second Merchant book done, maybe for NaNoWriMo this year. Work on . . . stuff. I have no idea what spring will bring, or Life. I know what I want to do, but stuff happens, especially in the spring.

    I’m almost done with the rough draft of _White Gold_, and I started the next Merchant book. I’m well into two of the stories for the Familiars collection. With other ideas bouncing around my head.

  3. What are your writing goals? Are you meeting them?

    Ultimate goal: finish complete storyline.
    Stepping stone goal: have story go from A, to B, to C.
    Support of stepping stone goal: Take the scenes I have, and write the stuff between.

    Because I do know that ultimate goal is important– but you have to have an idea of how you are getting there, and that becomes a goal, so you’ve got to break THAT down until you get steps you can actually do, directly. (Example: Goal: live forever. Support: don’t die. Support: look both ways before crossing street, and don’t play in traffic.)

    I am making progress! Can’t stick to ONE story– but that’s fine, I will work on Giggles the Space Himbo until I get a shiny for the sweet fairy tale fantasies or the RPG world, or something pops up with Giggles that makes me have to go add stuff to one of the other stories. (Which has happened a couple of times, and I just remembered I need to look up the density of the human body vs water…..)

  4. Writing goals…

    I lost a year to medical crap (all better now, thanks) which torpedoed not just my writing but taxes & other time-consuming obligations, etc. — right in the middle of the new long-term series I had begun (I need 3 books before starting to release, of which I had completed 2). I managed to find a different approach — a Word doc with an ever growing pile of loosely organized scene outlines and fragments which I could produce from half-awake brain fog. This is not how I normally write, but it was a helluva lot better than nothing while my brain was taking a vacation. (This had the side-benefit of giving me something else to think about while lying around uselessly.)

    Now I’m back in the saddle (!) and turning that useful pile into book 3 in a more normal fashion (for me). Grateful, too, since this could have happened after the first 3 books were released instead of before, causing a long gap and complete loss of marketing momentum. I still have to pick up the newsletter and all the marketing again (I paused the advertising spend while I was too sick to monitor it), but that will come back before I do the big 3-book release while I move on to book 4.

    My real strategic goal is 2-3 books/year. I can do that, as far as pure writing goes, when all is well, but I fritter away far too much time on inessentials. So to make my goal work, I have to fix me more than my writing, and quit wasting time. (Easier said than done). At least the temporary crisis highlighted the fragilities of my cobbled-together business systems and I can work on those fixes, too, when I’m not writing.

    1. Glad to hear the medical issues are resolving! That was where 2019 disappeared to, for me; I understand and sympathize with the brain fog. Here’s to coming out of it with better systems on business and writing, and able to tackle 2021 & 2022 with a will!

  5. Goals: Get _Igor_ out in Print real soon. _Agent of the 300_ out to the Grammar Nazis this month and publish in October. Finish _Who Counts_ before tackling the sequel to _Stone_ for NaNoWriMo. And if I have trouble concentrating, there’s also _Bad Tolz_, _Fall of Empire_ and a couple of short stories . . .

  6. Finishing The Vanished Pearls of Orlov and Escape to HighTower. They’ve been hanging fire for far too long.
    In my defense, it’s been a challenging year.
    That said, I’ve also procrastinated because I didn’t want to face them or learning what the public thinks.

    My books are so much better in my imagination than they are on paper.

    1. *hugs* I understand the feeling! The good news is, when you get them written, as I mentioned above in the post, you will get better at translating head to page with every single one… and while you may not be as good as the standard to which you hold yourself, you’re not as bad as you fear.

      I went back recently to do edits on Shattered Under Midnight, three years and 5 publishable stories later. (I intended to get the typo corrections and a couple minor things in, back in 2018 in the month after publication, but health, life, more health, lots more life, 2020, etc intervened. This year I finally buckled down and said several swear words, and “I’m going to get back on track!”) And you know what? There were a couple things at the time that really bothered me, because I didn’t have the skill to get the world on paper to match the world in my head. But when I went back, I realized that while it was noticeably rougher than I am now, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.

      I went in thinking I was going to have to do major overhaul… and came out realizing I just needed to slip a word in here, a line in there, to make things more clear. It’s still going to be rougher, because it’s an earlier work, but it’s not bad. It’s amused a number of people, even in it’s current state – and other than minor edits, I’m going to leave it at that, and move on to new stories.

  7. My goal this year was to publish three novels and to draft three new things to replace them in the queue so to speak.

    The drafting has gone well. I’ve written two so far, and assuming I manage to do NaNo*, that will make three.

    The publishing…less so. I’m still at zero for the year. I’ve got one that’s being copyedited currently, so that should come out by the end of this month, and I suppose it’s possible that I might get another out, but it’s seeming less and less likely. Two will be be a stretch, three is outright impossible at this point.

    * = Not as safe an assumption as it ought to be. I think I may have just accidentally ended up running a Christmas Craft Fair, but that’s another story…

    1. I understand: I finished Blood, Oil & Love in May… or at least I typed “the end.” Beta readers took a while, and copyediting, and health issues, and I’m really, really hoping it’ll be out this month. A Prefect Day (With explosions) will, G-d willing, be out in October, and I think the anthology with I Didn’t Sign Up For This will be by November…

      But Men (and Women) plan, and G-d laughs…

  8. Writing. Hoping to kick a book out the door this year.

    But stress always makes me shift between projects.

  9. Writing goals?
    (Insert your choice of maniacal laughter here.)
    Seriously? Finish The Winter Solist. Start on another series and begin working on A Solist In Rome. Do all this with trying to find a new job, not go crazier, maybe go back to school next semester to blitz out twelve units to finish my degree program after a ten year delay.
    Oh, and all the other things that are involved in life.
    One sympathizes.

    1. Let’s make a pact. I promise to survive next semester if you promise to survive next semester.*

      *Terms, conditions, and acts of G-d may apply, see store for details. Offer not valid in states where such offers are prohibited et cetera, et cetera, in saecula saeculorum, amen.

  10. I didn’t learn anything about writing until I started writing. I’ve learned a thing or two since then.

  11. Writing goals:
    1. Finish Magic Abroad
    2. Short stories for both Misha and Cedar
    3. Outline/construct a framework for Cursebreaker and get first two books done.
    4. Quit procrastinating on everything.

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