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'If all else fails' (Read the instructions!)
Not everything's in the plan!
This week when we were having our 'Friday time' down town I was talking about this hub and the idea of the title being 'If all else fails' and my daugter suggested that the rest of the title should say "Ask the wife!" but I've decided to go with the original thought of "Read instructions" as it just about sums up some of the things that went wrong when I was writing and publishing the book and just what I didn't do!
Let me explain a little, you see I'm one of those people who say they like to work to a plan, I even make plans most of the time, but when push comes to shove and there's a deadline to meet the plan often goes sailing right out of the window, and with it most of the time so do the instructions!
That's probably okay for most of the things we do in life, but when it comes to doing something new that you haven't tried before it can be disasterous, and I think it's why so many of us are afraid of trying new things, we're afraid that we might not do things totally the way they should be done and might have no idea how to get things back 'on track' as it were, what do you think?
There was a plan writing this!
And it was followed (for the writing)
If this hub is about anything I'll say it's about not letting fear get in the way of realizing your dreams! There, I've said it now and we can all go home, or can we?
How many of us have got things we've been wanting to try for so long, but just that little bit afraid that it might not work out the way we want? Go on, admit it, there's that thing in the back of your mind you've always wanted to try, but well what if it doesn't work out?
I'd wanted for years to write a novel, every time I tried I got so far and stuff just kept crowding in literally choking the life out of the process and I'd get to the end of six months as as grumpy as anything because I'd just rembembered that I hadn't made any progress, and it was darned frustrating.
What is fear?
A workmate years ago gave me this definition of fear. Simply put it's False Evidence Appearing Real
Something that we're afraid of is something that probably won't happen, at least not as badly as we think it will!
Afraid of failing? The news is you only fail when you stop trying! That's true and besides if it is failing you can always go back to the instruction manual, or a friend who's a step or two ahead of you in the process and find out where the problem is so that you can fix it.
Don't worry about failing
"I have not failed ten thousand times, I've found nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine ways that don't work"— Thomas Eddison on the invention of the Lightbulb
Following the plan
A work collegue asked me yesterday how I actually wrote the book. I mean I work a sixty odd hour week so where's the time for writing right?
Truth is I had to come up with a plan and stick to it. Most authors talk about writing a certain number of words a day, but how do you do that when you've got a long day working on your regular job and very little time.
The answer to that for me was twofold, one was getting up earlier, most of the Book was written before 5.30am in the mornings! Now that's weird for me as I've always been a night owl! Getting up in the morning was a struggle, but staying up late wasn't a problem, but here I was banging away on the laptop at 5am just so I could get nearer to the goal, AND IT FELT GREAT.
But with a goal in mind even the getting up early was easy, and the days went better because each day I was closer to achieving that goal!
The second part I actually needed a bit of help with as most authors tell you to try for a certain number of words in a day, and I was failing in that so I turned to the instruction manual that I was using, here it is.
Here's the manual I used
It really works
In the Army whenever we got a new piece of equipment the first thing we always needed to know was "Is it squaddie proof?" in other words will the darned thing work or is it going to break on me?
Having tried Rick's system I can say it's pretty 'squaddie proof' you're not going to break the system, and if you follow it you'll end up with a published book that sells.
Okay that's the sales pitch over. But the instructions really did work and as soon as I knew they were going to (I got the recommendation from another hubber) I had nothing to fear, only the not finishing the job. The only parts that aren't working as well as I'd like are the bits where I'm having to go back and follow the instructions!
The answer to the second part was a free 'app' on my phone that allowed me to write a few words down when I had the chance and would synchronize with my laptop at home so that when I got home the material was there on the laptop and all I had to do was 'copy and paste' so I could continue. My daily 'wordcount' jumped from 400 to around 1,000 a day! (now if I can get a bigger battery for the phone!)
Learn from some of the Masters. Jeffery Deaver
Another master. Different style. Stephen King
Two master craftsmen, two different methods?
Actually as I was listening to these videos I realized there are two master craftsmen here yet they have totally different ways of writing!
The 'reading instructions' part isn't about the actual writing, that's for you to decide and for you to work through. I find it fascinating that there are two Best selling authors here with totally different approaches to the craft of writing.
I know, we can get into the debate of whether writing is an art or a craft? To me you only have to look at some of the great works of craftsmanship around us, a great car like a new Bentley or a Ferrari, a great building like so many (take a look next time you're in town at some of the older buildings and those from the 1930s and you'll see great craftsmanship and great art combined) to realize that a true craftsman is an artist.
To me writing is both an art and a craft, but here I'm not talking about that, more of how once you've got that art/craft on the screen and how do you get it into print.
Well, if all else fails then follow instructions, and don't worry too much if you get it wrong as the beauty of the system is that even if you do you can always go back and fix it up and your very next visitor will be starting afresh!
Take a moment to ponder
What's stopping you achieving your dream?
Now for the truth
I'd written the story and gone to CreateSpace to publish it. I got half way through and had submitted the files for approval and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally a day later I got an email back saying that the cover of the book was fine but there was a problem with the interior and could I please go in, fix the problem and re-submit.
I took a look and couldn't see the problem, still I made a change that I thought it might be and re-submitted it. I didn't get the problem so back the mansucript came with the same message. I did the same again and still not fixed!
in utter frustration I emailed CreateSpace to ask them what the problem was and how could I fix it. I got a very gracious email back showing me where the problem was and the steps I needed to do to fix it (they are awesome to deal with) and boy did I feel silly!
The problem was simply that I hadn't read the instructions thoroughly enough and at the top of the pages there was a place for me to put the 'Author name' and 'Book title' that I'd thought would be autofilled.
My next thought was "WHAT!! You mean I've got to put this in 165 times?" but wanting the book published I thought "I'm not stopping now!" and began only to see the computer to do it after the first page.
The moral here is if I'd have read the instructions first I'd have had the book out a week earlier!
My thought here is don't be afraid to try that new thing, and if it works first time well done for reading the instructions properly, but if not don't fret, go back and read them again and don't be afraid to ask questions, after all that's what life's about, trying new things pushing new boundaries and learning new skills!
The Impossible Dream (even Simon liked this!)
All for this week
Isn't that what our writing is about? About our seeking to try for that 'impossible dream' of being a writer? Or maybe yours is something else. Well step out, walk the path and there are so many here who'll walk the path with you.
We may not be aiming for the same goal that you are, we may not be reaching for the same things but we'll be there to help and encourage along the way, and remember 'IF ALL ELSE FAILS, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS'
Thank you for taking the time to read this hub and for being there to encourage along the way, now let's work towards reaching for those impossible dreams.
By the way, like Stephen King said, when I started this hub I had no idea where we'd end up, I just knew the hub would take us there.