As we prepare to close out 2017 and move into 2018, it seems a good time to reflect on what has gone well and what has not gone so well. It’s the traditional time for the dreaded “New Year’s Resolution” that is normally dead and in the grave before the first week of February. Because of this, I usually look upon our annual tradition of making-and-breaking promises to ourselves with suspicion or even a little scorn. But, when I was asked to do a piece on the year in review and lessons I wanted to apply in the next year, I was happy to do it because this year several things have lined up for me and I’ve learned a lot I hope I can pass on.
This year has been a banner year for me: my novel, Lunatic City, picked up by WordFire Press, hit the streets in July, and I sold a Four Horsemen short story, Hero of Styx to Seventh Seal Press in November. I’m in the final stages of getting another of my short stories The Witch published in different anthology, but I have no contract, so that’s as much as I feel I can say about that one. In addition, there are some other very exciting projects lined up for 2018, including my big project, the rough draft of The War of the Gods Saga is in the home stretch of “preproduction”. I hope to have it ready to go by February-March. I think that is doable. There is also a sequel to Lunatic City which is in post-production, a follow-up story to The Witch, and at least one more exciting project I dare not comment on, but will be requiring lots of my time.
Which brings me to one of my biggest challenges I have really struggled with: time management and, more specifically production. I have traditionally struggled to do two thousand words on any given day, though I’ve done seventy-five, once, that was a seven AM to ten PM marathon while writing Lunatic City. I have a day job and kids and many complicated personal life demands on my time that frequently conspire to steal my hours and minutes, just like everyone else.
If I’m not going to be able to create more hours in the day, I’m going to have to make better use of the time I have. First order of business: remove distractions. I traditionally listen to music, but I had taken to running You Tube videos while I wrote, and, without exception, I would find myself becoming distracted and slowing my pace. It had to stop. So, now, I listen to instrumental music, usually movie scores. This is a nice background noise that keeps my surroundings at bay while allowing me to concentrate.
My second major change: I’ve stop going back and fixing things I’ve decided to alter mid-story. That’s what rewrites are for. The way I have been doing things has been to stop, go back and find the piece I wanted to change before continuing with my story. It not only takes me out of the scene I’m writing, but often ends with me getting lost in my manuscript, looking for specific scenes or even passages. It must stop.
Lastly, I must come to the writing table with real forethought on what I want to write. When I have things thought out, or even better, jotted down. My little fingers fly over the keyboard and I can get upwards of a thousand words a minute. That’s moving! I have also maximized my time by getting out of bed at the wee hours of the morning, usually between five and five-thirty, though I’ve been known to get up earlier. This has two benefits: two hours of writing I don’t normally get and the opportunity to use my brain when it is freshest and at its best: right after coffee.
There are other things I’m hoping to do better in 2018: get the website I abandoned in favor of a FB page up-and-running, book signings, attend more conventions, do some panels, email lists, and much more. Some requires money which I’m hoping to start pulling from my soon-to-be arriving royalties. Others require time and commitment which I’m hoping to have after I’m done with the first War of the Gods manuscript. Either way, 2017 has been great. Here’s to an even better 2018!
T. Allen Diaz is the author of speculative fiction, including the dark space epic series the Proceena Trilogy and his gritty, moon-based noir Lunatic City. He lives in the Tampa Bay area with his wife and three kids where he has lived for his entire life. Follow him on Twitter as @Proceenawriter and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/T.AllenDiaz where you can stay up-to-date on all of his latest news and events.