is hard to break.
For those of you that enjoy my books, don’t worry yourselves…I’m not trying to break myself of the habit. It has been two years since I published The Jakarta Pandemic, and I found myself once again reflecting on these years, which is my custom in between novels. I struggled to finish Jakarta over a three-year period, starting and stopping that novel more times than I care to admit. I had carefully ignored Stephen King’s sage advice to carve out a ritualistic writing routine, which is the first, and most important step to taking yourself seriously as a writer. So much has changed since then, and it is hard to believe that I have finished three more books since launching Jakarta in October of 2010. Of course, I almost fell into the same trap that would have everyone, myself included, still waiting for book two.
I started writing the first Black Flagged novel in the same haphazard fashion in May of 2011. By June, I realized that it would take me two years to finish Black Flagged. I decided that this was unacceptable for many reasons. This shift in mindset was mostly motivated by a thorough enjoyment of writing. I had finally found something that I enjoyed without reservation, and didn’t need to do as part of life’s struggle to survive. However, I’m a pragmatist, so I won’t try and pretend that the success of The Jakarta Pandemic didn’t also figured prominently in this cathartic moment. It did, and I couldn’t wait two years to launch another book. Self-publishing ebooks came into it’s own that year, and I was well positioned to ride the ebook wave.
I revisited Stephen King’s On Writing, and decided to take his advice to set aside time every day. The same time. Since I don’t function well at night any more, I settled on the morning. I set my alarm for 4:30 AM and slept through it for a few days…at least I tried, and my body started to realize that I might be serious about getting up this early. Within a week, I had established a tentative routine, which had me sitting at my desk, listening to Pandora and writing by 5 AM. By the end of June, I had solidified this routine into a habit, and found myself waking up early on weekends to write. By mid-July, I realized that I would finish my second novel by the end of August (total writing time of three months), instead of the spring of 2013 (two years).
I remember chuckling at portions of Stephen King’s book, especially the part about his writing habits. I couldn’t understand the concept of writing every day, including holidays, until I had finally settled into my own habitual routine….thanks to his advice. I now wake up at 4:30 without the help of an alarm, and find it unsettling to miss a writing session. I wake up early on vacation, on our sailboat…just about anywhere. I find it equally disturbing to be in between novels…and there’s plenty to do between books, especially as a self-published author and a part-time writer. I balance this time between marketing the latest book, writing reviews and setting up the next novel.
The next book in this case will be Book Four in the Black Flagged series. I had originally planned to take a break from the series (the last novel came in at 170K words, which is twice the size of most self-published offerings) and pursue a post-apocalyptic follow-up to The Jakarta Pandemic, but the Black Flagged story is far from finished. The Russians are still operating a bioweapons development program and Srecko Hadzic is plotting his escape from the United Nations detention unit. Loose ends galore, and lots of opportunity for Sanderson’s Black Flagged group.
So, did what did I do this morning? You’re looking at it.