Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Every project is a learning experience

I've been putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard for as long as I can remember. I have five completed novels (six, if you count Pack Supremacy), a double handful of short stories, a hundred or so flash fictions (including fanfiction), and folders and folders of half-started projects. I've learned something new with every single one. And I still have a lot to learn.

Sometimes I take my writing abilities for granted. I feel like I can sit down at any time and pound out a story that may not be polished and perfect, but will at least be coherent and engaging. And so I don't think about perfecting my craft the way I probably should. Though I have a pile of writing books, I'm lucky to make it through a couple chapters of them. I don't traverse blogs looking for tips and tricks. I go to one writing conference a year, and that's because it's local and I can sleep in my own bed.

I don't even write as often as I should. It's hard to find time everyday, but not as hard as I've made it out to be in my mind. I could sacrifice an hour in front of the TV or a half hour of reading during my lunch break. I could push myself outside my comfort zone to see what it feels like to write contemporary or epic fantasy or literary.

But even with all my bad habits, I'm learning as I go. I'm noticing it acutely as I edit Pack Supremacy. I finished the first draft of Pack Mentality back in late 2012/early 2013. Since they're in the same series, details I included in PM are obviously incredibly important in PS. And I catch myself thinking, "Oh, I wish I'd done THAT in book 1," or, "I really shouldn't have included that bit so early."

I find I've learned a lot about the process of writing too. I really winged it when when I was writing Pack Mentality. I'm not sure I expected to actually finish it, so I have basically no notes. Which means I'm spending a ton of time checking for timeline continuity and making sure my character descriptions don't change from one page to the next. At some point (probably after this draft is done), I'm going to have to sit down and make lists and charts and maybe even maps because it's just getting ridiculous at this point. But it would have been a lot easier if I'd done this from the beginning.

Hopefully these are things I'll take with me as I work on my future books. I don't always learn from my mistakes, but if I can execute a few of these changes, it will give me room to learn new lessons once I get there.

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