Re: Discipline (& Other Random Things)

I lead a weekly writers group in San Mateo, which is something I would recommend for any established or aspiring author. Yes, because you can read your latest chapters and receive insightful feedback from folks with different perspectives. But also because it forces you to get off your ass and write so that you’re not that jackass who shows up empty-handed.

I’ve been that jackass. It’s not fun.

Common theme of this-here blog is that I lack any sense of discipline when it comes to writing books. One month, I’m cranking every night. The next three, it’s Anthem and Umbrella Academy time. But a writing group keeps me accountable. I want to bring at least 10 pages every week.

Degenerate sits at 25,000 words after about three or four weeks of writing. For comparison, my two previous books fall between 100,000 and 130,000 words. Mark your calendars. It’s February 24 now and I’m shooting to be done at the end of June. That really ought to be enough time for almost any semi-dedicated writer, but please see above.

The book is taking shape now. I like these characters for all of their faults. And two nights ago, I downed one of these caffeine-drowned things at 11pm:



The result was five hours–yes, until 4am–of writing in which I authored the raunchiest, dumbest, greatest scene in any of my books to date. Thanks, Lucky Jack.

Point being, Degenerate is a full blown thing with an atmosphere all its own, and once again my kids cannot go near it with a ten-foot pole. The story is racing along by my standards and I’m staying optimistic about the completion date.


My wife frequently observes that I mark long-distance road trips by landmarks. She’s right, of course. We travel back and forth between LA and SF quite a bit, and I know that Kettleman City, Coalinga, the Grapevine, and the 580 highway are all milestones that make the trip a little easier for me.

Same rule applies to writing. 25,000 words is the first milestone. 50,000 the next. 75,000 the third. And anything after that is the final stretch. At least for my books, which tend to consistently weigh in at about 350-500 pages. (I suppose Stephen King’s 1000-page novels require very different milestones.) So anyway, working my way toward the halfway point. Will keep you posted.

Writing Getaways

Okay, this is where I complain that if I didn’t have a full-time job and a big old family, I could knock out a book every two months. As we established earlier, that’s not entirely true, of course–I always find ways to procrastinate. But on those rare occasions when I hole up somewhere to meet some book deadline, I do regularly knock out 5,000 words a day. If you’re doing the math, those numbers suggest I could write a 400-plus-page book in 20 days. I would die from exhaustion first, mind you, but it’s possible.

And yet it isn’t given the job and the family. So every so often, I take a little trip, barricade myself, and try to hit 15 or 20,000 words in a few days. Buddy of mine just bought a new place in Reno and invited me to come up and make the most of it. I’m thinking late March I’ll take the lovely train ride up–it’s through the snowy mountains–and see if I can’t accelerate progress of Degenerate.

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