5 Things I Learned Writing Crashpoint

1. Figure it out later

Get the story down. Some of it may not be fully explained in your head, but the reasons will emerge from the mist later. At first I see bits and pieces of scenes, teaser trailers, and then full trailers and then the rest appears as I go over it. I had to learn not to fight that, to actually roll with it. Go back and fill in the details, names, settings, dialogue, whatever is missing. Inevitably, like an archeologist, I would end up sweeping away more dirt and discovering more of what lays underneath (to paraphrase Stephen King).

2. All good things take time to become good

Any project of a certain size takes time. It can’t be rushed, and you can’t be rushed in producing it. Haste makes crap. This isn’t the same thing as being efficient and highly productive. Some trees take decades to grow as much as bamboo does in a year. But my point is that even ten feet of bamboo doesn’t sprout in two seconds. (What, you don’t like bamboo? Who doesn’t like bamboo?)

3. Write what you fear (Stephen King said once). I fear:

  • a world of balkanized micro-states left to their own devices
  • a workaholic culture
  • imposing your way of life on others
  • Big Data used by stalkers and extortionists, unhindered by authorities
  • Big Data not used to understand and improve the world
  • political terrorism based on the latest social science
  • fear of the future

4. Stomp your writerly emotions

It’s great, it’s garbage, I suck, I can do this, shiny object, I’m awesome, no one is dumber than me. So much wasted time on stupid emotional, lizard brain crap. Beating back this mental sewage could very well be the key to success.

5. Writing a novel is difficult.

It’s like filming a movie about a wedding reception starring only toddlers who have skipped their naps. And then you realize that it’s just because you suck and you get better with practice. Most people toss out their first through fifth novels. I did that too, but kept writing the same novel. The problem/benefit was that the story was too good. I’ve since written (counts on fingers) more than four more novels, plus a stack of short stories. Practice, process, and persistence are the keys. Also, this is art, and quality is in the eye of the beholder when you reach a certain point.

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