Monday 8th January 2018
Achieving anything worthwhile is hard. It takes a lot of work and persistence. There are days when you feel super-motivated, and there are days when your confidence is knocked.
Publishing is a great example. You have to believe that you have a great book in you. You need that supreme confidence to drive you forwards. But at the same time, you need equal amounts of humility. You know that at any moment you could be proved wrong, that the book you’ve toiled for years on won’t find a market.
The trick is to find the balance between those two opposing views,. It feels – cliché aside – that you are walking on a tightrope, trying to maintain your balance and not fall too much one way or another.
The Climb is nearly a year old now, and some days I genuinely feel like I’ve made no progress whatsoever. I feel silent and invisible. I get frustrated. I want the spoils of my hard work.
But as with everything patience is required (especially with publishing). I’ve used the last year to push and better myself, and whilst it’s impossible to see at the time, looking back I can see massive progress over the last year.
I’m not sure my first drafts or my day-to-day writing has improved much over the last year. I’m probably more aware of my tics but I’m not sure I do much to address them. That’s because in the last year I’ve really learnt to edit.
Do I think I’m brilliant at editing? No, my first drafts were usually pretty solid and I’ve learnt in the past 12 months how to take those and make them so much tighter. But I know I still have so much I could improve. I’m seeing flaws in books without consciously looking now. It doesn’t ruin my enjoyment. But it does make me realise that the last year has seen progress.
And how did I do this? Day by Day. And it’s all documented within The Climb
Take today for example. I’m busy editing book 2 and one of the things that has been bothering me is my magic system. In book 1 it’s a bit nebulous. In my own head, I understand bits of it but book 2 requires that I start finessing it.
Now I could do the simple thing of doing what everyone else does, but remember that I’ve been watching some Brandon Sanderson in the last couple of weeks? That’s on my mind. He makes incredible magic systems and as a result I want something that feels a little bit fresh.
I don’t need to go crazy. Magic is very much in the background of these books and whilst it will play some importance, it doesn’t need to overshadow the fact that this is the story of a normal man.
I realised tonight that I was missing a chapter in the document (and an important one at that). It’s the book’s main action scene. Luckily I managed to find it (it had got dragged under another chapter for some reason). I’ve got fuse grenades in there and it got me thinking about whether magic users could use magic grenades. Book 1 establishes the idea of imbuing things with magic, and so I think having something that can store magic is going to be key to the magic worldbuilding. Using magic grenades to release the energy needed to cast spells seems different enough from the usual spells and force powers but familiar enough that it doesn’t overshadow the world.
I still need to work some things out, particularly how magic is controlled to do what is required, but today saw the start of an idea that’s going to get fleshed out.
Why do I say all this? Because this is just one example of how I grow and progress.
You don’t wake up one morning and become a great writer. It’s done bit by bit, improvement so infinitesimally slow that you feel you’re not making any progress.
Just like my ideas for the magic system, so my career is an evolution. This is why this is called The Climb… because it’s progress made day by day, inch by inch.
And it’s all documented. Hopefully in years to come, when someone asks for advice on how I created my magic system I can point them here and they can see how it started. They can see what influenced those decisions, what my creative process was and why I made the choices I did.
I’ve been doing this for close to a year now… but if you look really closely you can see every micro-step of my evolution.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.
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