Between Projects: When I’m Not Writing

There are some writers who believe you have to write every day. If you don’t, you’re not a writer. I know: I heard that a lot in my early years writing. And it depressed me because I’m not that type of writer. I can’t sit down and just start writing if I don’t have a project in mind. Some writers can; I can’t. It made me feel for a while that I was a failure as a writer.

What I am is what I call an “immersive” writer. When I am working on a project, I immerse myself in it as much as possible. It’s what others call being “in the zone.” It works for me as far as creativity is concerned. The only problem is that I’m not a good person to live with during that time. When I’m heavy into a project, my wife knows my mind has gone bye-bye for the most part. That’s part of the reason why I can’t do these projects constantly: I want to stay happily married.

So there are gaps in my writing. Right now, I am slowly gearing up for my next project, and involved in some marketing for my most recent project. I recently completed the fourth book in the Heretics Series, entitled “The Crucible.” At first, my plan was to wrap up the series with this fourth book, but as I write it, there are a couple of loose threads that make me think there’s room for another book or two. The biggest factor to determine whether the series will continue is how many readers pick it up.

Back to the concept of “immersive” writing: I retired from teaching eighteen months ago, and because I was changing my life and lifestyle, I purposely put my writing on hold for a while. A couple of months turned into a year. What seemed like a good idea at the time turned out to be problematic. When you don’t write that long–just like anything else–you get very rusty. It was hard to get back in the saddle and write again. I learned that if I’m going to continue writing, I can’t hang it up for that long anymore.

Part of the reason I haven’t started up right away is that real life is getting in the way. I am supposed to start teaching a class in a couple of weeks. At this point, I don’t have any students signed up for the class, so the whole issue may be moot, but I need to hold off on anything else until I know for sure. Second, we are doing a lot of babysitting of a three-year-old grandson which not only takes time but energy. So if and when I start my next book, I need to work around these two obligations.

Anyway, I am always reminded of what my friend and colleague Randy Maxwell used to say when I was a book editor: “Those who really want to write will find time to do it.” It seems callous to those who struggle to find time to write, but that’s the reality of it. There are countless stories of successful writers who wrote their breakthrough book while they were commuting, or by getting up early in the morning. If you’re going to do it, you will find a way.

And I might add: There’s no one way to write a book. Find what works for you. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t do it the way others recommend. Find your own path.

The only thing that matters is words on paper.