Your mission should you choose to accept it is to write 80 to 100 thousand words. Not just any words will do, they have to come together in a cohesive manner and must include the following. Conflict, action, suspense, emotional highs and lows, secrets, revelations, tension and must come to a plausible–with the exception of a few unanswered questions leading to possible sequels–resolution.
Writing a book is similar to a military mission. You have to plan, do research, and get to know your enemies as well as your allies. It’s a war and your weapon may be the pen but I can’t guarantee you won’t have to kill anyone. I’m not talking Casino here. You don’t have to stab anyone but depending on the story, you may have to kill off a few characters.
Once you’ve set your plan in motion, it’s not a steady drive to reach your goal. There are times you will have to retreat and regroup, use a different plan of attack, or even beg for a cease-fire. I’m not just talking about the writing.
This is where you switch from a military to a civilian approach. Life outside your story continues. Sometimes you have to set it aside to handle things beyond your control or something more important.
You need that day job to pay your bills so you can pursue your writing. Without the support of your family and friends, life becomes a lot tougher. Don’t let your writing come between you and a loved one’s birthday or an excuse not to go see or help a sick relative or friend. Letting your house fall into disarray only ends up being a bigger distraction. Your own mental and physical health is vital to getting the job done.
Illness, fear, guilt and loneliness will hinder your writing. You may even come to hate or blame it, but the blame is on you, because you can do something about it. I’m not saying you have to stop the writing process—remember there’s more to writing than just putting words on paper–when a trivial crisis arises. Some things work themselves out without you. Commonsense can tell you when to ignore or when you need to do something.
Writers spend a great deal of time inside their own heads living vicariously through their characters. Sometimes we neglect both the trivial and the important. Yes, I know there are deadlines. Life has deadlines also. By spending so much time in our heads and worrying about deadlines, we sometimes forget to live. If you break it down living is what makes the backbone of a good story.
Life will help as well as hinder your mission. Live and you’ll have a whole lifetime’s worth of stories in your arsenal.