COMMANDER, COMMAND THYSELF

A couple weeks ago I made some New Years Resolutions, publically, here at Fantasy Author’s Handbook. So far—a whole nine days into 2018—of those three resolutions, I’ve totally nailed two.

I immediately stopped snacking, removed most meat and all processed sugar from my diet, and I have not looked back. Though I wish I could say I instantly felt better… well… it’s a process, but a process I’ve begun in earnest. I’ve also read, cover to cover, two whole books for pleasure so far in 2018, putting me a smidge ahead of schedule on my goal of reading, on average, a book a week. Okay, they were short books, and one of them I can’t say I particularly loved, but I read them. I am spending more time reading.

So then what of the third and at least equally important resolution?

I WILL GET BACK TO WRITING IN 2018

So, 2016 sucked. It was a tough year for my little business for a few reasons—and none of it had anything to do with the election, etc. It took me the lion’s share of 2017 to dig out of that, but it came at the expense of my own writing. And just like I fell into the easy lazy thing with reading, I’ve filled my flagging-due-to-ill-health workday energy with work, leaving no time or energy or the mental will for writing.

Well, okay, not no time, per se, but definitely not nearly enough time.

So back to writing—and writing a lot—for me.

A few changes to my business will help that along, but still, this is going to come down to a choice between TV I’m not really all that excited about or writing.

Advice for writers?

Write.

It’s the first principle.

How have I done in terms of writing more in the first week and a half of 2018?

Awful.

What the hell!

Most days—no writing at all.

Not acceptable!

So what to do?

How about taking some of my own advice?

That seems like a pretty good place to start, so I went back and found this post from August 15 of last year, my cap to a long series of posts examining Henry Miller’s advice to authors. Reading over these ten commandments again, I find I can still stand behind every last one, 100%. So then, what the hell am I doing not following them?

If I can bring ice cream, candy, and burgers to a complete halt from one day to the next, and say no to an hour of TV here and there to read more, why can’t I take another hour or so of TV off to write?

No reason. Of course I can.

So I’m going to do this: I’m going to use this space not to publically shame myself or anything—there’s no reason for that—but to gather support, even if only in my imagination, from the community of other writers out there, many of you also, maybe, struggling to get your own writing back on track—or on track in the first place.

Let’s make this an irregular series of posts, updating my work on this resolution to write more, taking each of my own “commandments” in order. That means this week, it’s:

PHIL’S TEN COMMANDMENTS OF WRITING (AFTER HENRY MILLER)

1. Work on one novel at a time until finished, while also writing the occasional poem, short story, article, and weekly blog post.

I know exactly what that novel is—the novel I’ve been ruminating over for, literally, years now. I’ve filled a full notebook with worldbuilding and character notes. I’ve already written a few scattered scenes, and the whole thing is at least semi-formed in my head. I know what the theme is. I know who the hero is, and who the villain is, what they want, and what they’re willing to spend to get it. I have just enough outline to get me started. There’s no reason not to dive in and write the damn thing.

So that’s the novel.

Blog posts, too? Check—you’re reading one right now!

Poetry? I promise to write on today!

Short stories? I owe Pro Se two more jungle pulp stories and at least one will be done this month.

This is it, Fantasy Author’s Handbookers… I’m writing again, damn it.

Hold me to that!

 

—Philip Athans

 

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About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, (https://fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com/) is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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2 Responses to COMMANDER, COMMAND THYSELF

  1. Meg MacDonald says:

    Holding you to it, Phil, and I’ll beta when you’re ready to rock and roll. Working with you during the WD Worldbuilding class last year was a highlight for 2017 for me. The novel I was revising–and from which I drew material for the class–is making the rounds. That means I need to be focusing on revising the second one and worrying less about the one “out there” and the one that comes next (I might have more fingernails left that way). I enjoyed your Ten Commandments of Writing series of posts and need to implement most (all) of them myself. You aren’t alone on this journey. That’ll be me slogging along on the path. You know, the one without any fingernails.

  2. Pingback: COMMANDER, COMMAND THYSELF… PART 2 | Fantasy Author's Handbook

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