Over the weekend, I read a really interesting post on The Passive Voice blog. It was an excerpt from a post by Dean Wesley Smith, looking at the tools and opportunities we have today and asking why we, as writers, still think that it’s difficult to write like the old pulp writers:
Yesterday, in the last chapter of the book I did about writing a novel in five days while traveling, I made a comment near the end that I found the exercise fun to be able to (just for a few days) feel like I belonged in the world of the pulp writers.
And I made a comment that I was born too late.
A reader wrote me privately with a good comment. Basically the reader reminded me that I should feel lucky to have the modern things we writers use such as computers, control of our own work instead of selling it to gatekeepers and so on.
The reader made a very good point. We do have it so easy, so much easier than the pulp writers did. I know that, I study the pulp writers and their lives.
Yet even with things being easier, it is unusual for a writer in 2017 to write a novel in five days.
So why do writers in this modern world not just write novels every week, week-after-week?
That even “Why?” question…
I knew the answer. Writer’s belief systems. Modern writers don’t believe they can.
That belief has been trained out.
Writers of the modern world have been taught to think that writing at pulp speed is different, unusual, a fantastic feat, massive work, and on and on and on…
I then realized I had done it too. And until tonight I hadn’t caught myself on it.
Look back at the last chapter I wrote. I called the entire idea of a novel in five days, “Crazy.”
Why? Writing a 40 thousand word novel should take me between 35 and 40 hours.
Sitting alone in a room and making stuff up for 40 hours in five days. What is so crazy about that????
And more importantly, what is so difficult about that?????
It’s a fair question. And it got me thinking: what are the false writing beliefs that are crippling me right now?
I can think of a few:
- First drafts are never publishable.
- Prewriting is not as important as butt in chair, hands on keyboard.
- You can’t have more than one active WIP at the same time.
- You can’t write short stories while working on a WIP.
- Writing a short story per week is hard.
Well, it’s time to break free from these crippling beliefs, starting with the last one.
I’ve had a bunch of short story ideas recently, and I’m going to start running with them. I’ve neglected my short story writing for the past six months, so my active submissions have dried up somewhat (at least to the pro markets). But a lot of magazines have been giving me personalized rejections, which tells me that I’m not too far from a breakthrough. Trouble is, I just haven’t had anything to send them lately.
If I could write a novel per week, that would be absolutely fantastic. I’d probably write in a crazy obscure genre like Sword & Planet, except it’s not that obscure because Princess of Mars influenced everyone from Clarke, Bradbury, and Heinlein to George Lucas and the US Space Program.
But I’ll start with the short stories. And from there, who knows?