I believe that the best way to write enough to publish is just to keep writing. Well, duh. What does that mean?
Ideas for stories come fairly easily. What does not come eaily is bringing those ideas to fruition in a story that matteres -- and all good stories matter, whether they deal with a serious topic or something that may be thought of as frivilous.
Sometimes you reach a point and realize a story has nowere to go. It's buried in the "maybe later" file and you go on to something else. If that happens too often, it may mean your "keep your buns in a chair" gene is not working properly. My gene has been known to wander.
Writers have different indicators for when a story is stalled. We may:
- Have characters repeat (to another character, or while ruminating) recent action. As if repetition will clarify where what should come next.
- Start a new chapter or scene with a phrase such as, "The next day dawned bright/cloudy..." Moving action forward without showing the transition because, well, how did we get there?
- Have characters deal with daily life beyond what's needed to move the story along. Mindless activity may help an author think, but it loses readers.
- And the tried and true distraction, clean something in one's own home.
In Toxic Traces (which will never see the light of day) I put several characters on the D.C. subway. As if that would get to the next plot point. In both cases, I took long breaks from the stories as the characters got their bearings.
These were early books. Now I know I can't stop. I always have ideas for scenes, so I'll write a few paragraphs or pages even if I don't know how they'll fit into the story. I generally use the scene in some way, but even if I don't, the process of putting pen to paper has continued.
Of course, those who outline carefully before starting Chapter One will say, "See, this is why you outline." I do make notes as I start and along the way, but I'm way too impatient to outline. One of these days a diversion will waste too much valuable time. In the meantime, I enjoy the ride.
* * *