Avi WordCraft blog

Struggling

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I am working on a new book—and I am struggling. Given the fact that I’ve published some eighty books, it may surprise some that I am struggling. Let me suggest why.

  1. Every book is a new book, and the success of one, though presumably it gives confidence to write another, that is not necessarily so. A writer’s confidence is, at best, fragile. A nasty remark on Goodreads can kill a day’s work.
  2. One of the pitfalls of a new book is my contract—if I have one. A contract will specify the total word count—say sixty thousand words. But there on my screen, the PC is counting and it reads “2,465 words.” The psychological tendency, then, is to write more words than I need. That clogs up my writing, and makes it verbose. It feels as if I am writing badly. I am.
  3. I agreed to write such and such a book, with such and such a plot, and I made a good pitch. But a pitch is not a book. There is many a slip between pitch and book.
  4. Reminder: talk as little about my book as possible. It boxes me in. Silence is freedom.
  5. Sometimes as I write, I see a possibility for a shift in the story. But I promised something else. Reminder to self: go with the shift, with what feels right. The one person I should talk to is my editor.
  6. Reminder: Beware the book that is focused on place, rather than characters. Travel books are about places. Fiction is about characters.
  7. Reminder: Professional writers get paid for their work, and I depend on that income to live. Get it done! reverberates in my head. The rent is due. That creates another kind of pressure, one that may be real but that doesn’t help my writing.
  8. Reminder: Good writing is re-writing, endless re-writing. Patience is a key component of writing.
  9. Reminder: Never deny your deepest instincts about your own work.
  10. Reminder: Read good writing by others. Other writers will show the way.
  11. Reminder: Slowly (if not surely) it will get done.

5 thoughts on “Struggling”

  1. Thank you, once again, for your valuable insights! I’ve read many over the years and your generosity has helped me to develope my craft. I still have a lifetime of learning ahead of me, but you, Avi, have made a difference to me as a writer. Many thanks and wishing you continued Good Luck!
    GKFoster

  2. This helps as I’m in the midst of following my instinct to re-write a significant portion of my book. It hurts to cut so many words out, but I know I’ll feel better once the story is going in a direction I love, instead of a direction I was forcing myself to go in. Thank you!

  3. Avi, you are one of my favorite writers and I recommend your books to my students in the library. I can see that each book is a treasure that has been purified by the pressure and constant direction of your state of mind. They are more precious than gold. Thank you for your patience, and hard work!

  4. Ah, this book. Reminder: sometimes birthing a book hurts as much as birthing a child. But once the labor has started, things have been set in motion. Pace a little, suck on a few ice chips, but then bear down and push this book out into the world. 🙂 I hope you’re well. <3

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