Friday 2nd February 2018

If you want to be successful at anything, you pretty much have to follow the same pattern.  Whether it be in sports or creative arts or business, you need to work hard and put in years of grind (most of it unnoticed).
That means sacrifice.  That means giving up some leisure activities to give yourself time to work on your ‘craft’ (whatever that may be).  It kinda makes sense… unless you put in the hours to practise, then you’ll never get good.
A 5 minute google search will have you turning up loads of results that will tell you to give up videogames, to cancel your Netflix subscription, to stop going to the cinema.  And for many disciplines that’s great advice.
Except writing.
Now, I have to balance it.  I can’t let it get in the way.  I find I go through months when I’m writing or editing that I watch hardly anything, read little, and drop off playing videogames.  But there are times like now when I’m doing nothing but consuming games and books and TV and film at a ridiculous rate.
I like to think of this as me feasting on content.  My creativity is like a mana bar in a video game.  As I write and edit, it gets drained.  And so at the end of a big project, or before I start a new one, I consume a ridiculous amount.
I’ve had to learn that this isn’t me being lazy.  Instead, this is part of my process.
We’ve been watching The Punisher on Netflix this week.  I’ve been finding it a bit of a mixed bag, although it’s starting to pick up.  I’m a big fan of the character (used to read the comics as a kid) and I like the nods they’ve given to the source material.
But in it I’m finding a lot of ideas that I think might work in the next book.  Most of these just crop up as I watch something.  It could be a cool stunt, or a setup that I like that makes me go “I could do something like that in the next book”
My intention isn’t to rewrite that story but to gather the ideas I like and put them into the melting pot.  The 3rd Shade Knight book needs to feel like the end of a trilogy (whilst hopefully not being the end) so I think it needs huge stakes at the end.
And The Punisher has given me a few ideas that might work.  I like the idea of falling from a great height with something to arrest the fall only to dislocate the shoulder.  And whilst not directly in The Punisher this has spawned an idea of having the bad guys go after all my hero’s friends.  It would raise the stakes, make it personal and work with with the murder mystery plot I already have.
But they’re proto-ideas.  They’ll mutate and change as they get introduced to other ideas I have from different sources.  They just all go into the pot as I then move onto the next thing and get more ideas from that.
Most of these ideas will never get used, or will get used at a later date.  But that’s OK.  I’m in feast mode, and subconsciously I’m already working on the plot of book 3.
Our business as writers is in storytelling.  And as a result it’s important that we study it.  Just as a professional footballer might watch loads of games, so a writer should consume a lot of media.
It may feel like laziness rather than work but today I got a huge amount of work done on book 3…. just by watching a lot of Netflix.
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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