Making Up for Zero Days

Since March I’ve been writing sporadically, and it’s been killing me. I keep a journal of my daily output and for much of spring and early summer it’s looked like this:

Since March I’ve been on the road a lot with Denise. I accompanied her on her book tour throughout the east and southeast, and while I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, I’m forced to admit that I wasn’t very productive at all. I’ve never gotten good at writing for myself while on the road.

In contrast, I’ve always been able to force myself to crank out client work and meet their deadlines while on the road. When it comes to my own stuff, I just tell myself I can skip a day. So while my ghostwriting clients can happily say their projects have moved forward—the scientists, the business dudes, the diet docs all got their proposals done this spring, yay for them—but on the Joe-fiction-writing front, this is the result: a long line of zeroes.

I started off great in January and managed to get about 75,000 words done on the new project before things went haywire. And when Denise hit the road solo in mid-June, I locked myself in the house and managed to write 35,000 words—Joe words, not client words—in a week. I now have a good rough draft on that book. It’s big, sloppy, and longwinded, but I’m ecstatic. It means I’ll be able to march through the next draft solidly knowing where I’m headed.

I’ve also decided to share this book with my agent and not automatically self-publish it. You can read that as a sign of how excited I am about this project. But bear in mind that I’m still at least one good draft away from sharing it with anyone. Since this is historical fiction, there’s a lot more research ahead.

If you think you might be interested in being a beta reader on this work, please let me know. The genre is historical fantasy, by which I mean that an element of magic has been inserted into a real-life historical setting. I’ll post again when I’m ready to share it.

By the way, here’s what I can say about any kind of historical fiction: don’t. Just don’t. You can barely write a sentence of your book unless you’ve researched a ton of stuff. Knowing how much I procrastinate, it’s a wonder I’ve gotten this far with this book.

I managed to write a decent short story this week, so I think I may have broken through the logjam. This week I’ll be starting the next book in The Mesmerist series while revising the historical fantasy. Should be good. Just don’t tell my ghosting clients, whose work may or may not be due this week.

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In other news:

* It’s Fourth of July week here in the States. My most best-selling nonfiction book, Signing Their Lives Away, tells the story of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. That book and its sequels have sold pretty well in historic site and museum gift shops. Learn more about them here. Follow the Facebook page here.

*  Back when we had more time on our hands, we did a line of Signer-themed Fourth of July T-shirts. Check them out here.

* Lastly, Google Reader was discontinued July 1. If you’ve been following this blog via that service, it’s time to migrate over to something like Feedly or what-have-you. All I ask is that you take me along with you. It’s been fun, hasn’t it? I haven’t been excessively annoying or needy, have I? Please take a moment to bookmark this page to your new reader, whatever it is.