What I’ve Learned So Far (Writing)
I started Universal Warrior: Uprising (Book One) when Chris Tejeda (@ChrisTejeda on Twitter) introduced me to the world of Web Fiction. I was fresh off of Nanowrimo, having completed the 50k words in one month. I had at last found my calling, and was eager to begin work on something else.
Three months, sixteen posts, and sixty-two comments later, Universal Warrior: Uprising celebrated hitting the 1000 mark. At the time of this writing, the site had garnered 1,005 hits, and more people are picking up the story at its beginning every day.
I don’t consider the story a success; rather, I see this as laying the groundwork for my future. I most certainly never expected the story to take off the way it did, and it always makes me grin to see people tuning in every Monday before the story goes live. I enjoy the fact that people enjoy my work.
I will consider the story a success when I am paid to do it. I’ve had people ask me lately how I get paid to blog (which I don’t) and what methods I use to get the story out to the public. So I thought I’d take this time to illustrate the methods of my madness, most of which were loaned to me by someone far more experienced.
1). Know Your Story.
Universal Warrior has been in my head, in one form or another, for the past twenty years. I know each of the 500+ characters that inhabit this world, I know where they’re going, and I know where everything ends up. Even so, I outline each chapter long before I type the first word. I recommend everyone do this, unless you’re extraordinarily talented. Planning your work in advance is a great way to avoid writer’s block. If you get stuck, refer to your notes. It’s okay if you end up with something far outside of what you planned, but at least you have your plan to fall back on.
2). Get Into Social Networking.
You don’t go cliff jumping without a parachute. You don’t launch your epic without having someone know about it. These days, you should spend almost as much time networking as much as you do writing. What good is it to put all this effort into your hyper-mega epic if absolutely no one was aware of its release?
Never, ever dismiss any social networking site. You never know who’s there, and who might promote your work. If you’re not using twitter, you should be. You should be using Twitter if you’re in any creative field. You should be using Twitter if you get out of bed in the morning. If you’re not on Twitter, stop reading this right now and go sign up. Then check out this site that lists people you might want to start following.
I release Universal Warrior through Twitter, MySpace, Friendfeed, Facebook, and I’m starting to post announcements through Web Fiction Guide, and next week I’ll do the same on Muse’s Success. Get your work out there. It’s better to be hated than unknown; you can always improve.
Okay, now, the flip side to this coin is this; don’t get on these sites and speak only of your work, rambling on aimlessly about how great your stuff is without interacting with anyone else. This is the quickest way to get blocked.
Network. Meet people. Establish genuine connections. Then talk about how great your work is.
3). Keep your Word
Universal Warrior comes out each Monday by 1pm CST, no matter what. I have only missed the 1pm deadline once, and I have never once missed a Monday deadline. I sincerely believe that this is why I’ll have up to ten hits every Monday before the story is released.
Before you even have a story, you have your reputation. Build it and they will come.
In conclusion, I have to say that I spend anywhere from one to three hours churning out words on various projects. You have to be dedicated or your lack of it will show up in your work. I haven’t had a day in weeks where I didn’t put out at least a thousand words (of course, this is because I have no job).
I also have to say that you probably have to be a little lucky. There isn’t a week that goes by that I wonder whether or not I will do irreparable damage to my fledgling fan base. Is it too long? Is this in character? Is this too much backstory? Is this enough action? Not enough action? Is this explained well enough? Am I revealing too much? Is this the story I should be telling?
Welcome to my world.
There are other methods I use, which include:
*Keeping a Thesaurus and two Dictionaries at my desk at all times
*Having a window to stare out of during ADD moments
*Taking a break every hour to read, play, do pushups, or anything not related to the task at hand
*Having appropriate music on at all times
All of this is just what works for me. There is no miracle cure. There is no magic formula that will turn you into the next Stephen King. In the end, you have to find what works for you, and then stick with it. Even more importantly, if you’re finding that your methods don’t work, you need to be open-minded enough to realize that something needs to change.
Ultimately, you decide your own fate.
Thanks for reading, and good luck.
Special thanks to Molly (@bookwormm21) my unflaggingly detail-oriented editor (and girlfriend), MeiLin Miranda (@MeiLinMiranda) for the tutelage, Chris Tejeda (@ChrisTejeda) for introducing me to this world, and Dianne (@keikomushi) for her work advancing in advancing Universal Warrior (and introducing me to podcasting!)
(c) Avery K. Tingle for Akting Out LLC
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