365 Days a Book
When I tell people I’ve written ten books, five movie scripts, and close to a thousand poems totaling well over five thousand pages in the past seven years, their eyes tend to get big and their curiosity spikes. Even with the known numbers, there are dozens of short stories I haven’t included and well over a hundred other ideas that are still in outline form. This tends to overwhelm people. Oftentimes, I am asked how do I do it? How do I manage to write so much while having a job that takes up 40 hours of my life, at minimum, while losing another 49 hours, at minimum, to sleep? In short, you make time for what you want, and I want to be a well-known, consistent writer.
If you don’t know why I want to be a writer, take a look at a previous blog post titled “Inspired” before going forward. If you have read that blog, or you don’t care, here’s how I’ve gotten such a long list of ideas for my writing pleasure: God, life, emotion, and desire. Together, all four of these marvelous elements have resulted in a life’s work of novels, movies, short stories, and poems I can’t wait to write.
The start of a story usually comes in the form of a dream, a thought, a twist or better plot idea that I’d like for a movie or show I’m watching, or when I’m in the depths of an emotion and want to write my way out of it. Whenever these ideas arise, I usually put them in my phone or on my computer first. I learned very quickly that my memory is not the greatest. Whether it be by distraction or too many thoughts at the same time, I have lost an untold number of stories already. My college professor, Alexander Parsons, taught me a valuable lesson: always keep a notebook or phone with a notes section on you in case an idea strikes. It has helped me retain many ideas. I’ve even gotten out of the shower mid-wash to put an idea on my phone before.
Whenever I have a dream, the first thing I do is pray a quick prayer, because the Lord gave me the dream or the memory to maintain the idea of the plot. Then, I grab my phone or go to my computer, depending on the time of day. I write down everything that took place in the dream, what stood out about the dream, and how that dream speaks on the reality of God.
Sometimes I risk losing the idea of the story in an attempt to not fully wake so that the dream can continue. This has worked only a handful of times. One dream was about a poor man living in the streets of a desert market on an alien planet. He had some dealings with a crime syndicate, and was on the run from them. While stealing bread to eat, he was found by two henchmen. After running through the market to escape them, he ended up getting caught and brought before their leader. The man tried to plead for more time, but the leader did not trust him, so he took an eye from the man as payment for what was due to his syndicate. Imagine dreaming that your head is pressed flat against a wooden table while you are held down by the shoulders. Then, you helplessly watch as a lizard man takes a spoon and scraps out your right eye. Definitely rememberable, right? This was still the first dream.
The dream continued with the poor man seated in the marketplace, dejected, with a cloth around his bleeding right eye. I was this man. I looked through one eye while I knew I would wake with two. It was fascinating. But nothing topped meeting a kind doctor, who took this poor man into his office and replaced the man’s eye with a blue, robotic eye. As soon as the doctor went to test the robotic eye, the man found his vision not only restored, but enhanced. As he looked to the doorway, in his left eye he saw the door, in his right eye he saw a massive alien so big, he wondered how he got in.
This man was so sneaky and slick, he didn’t even let on that he saw the massive alien. He merely played like he saw nothing, and left the building. Problem was, the massive alien was suspicious of him, and followed him. The man ran to the top of a building and looked over the whole market. In his left eye were nothing but roofs, but in his right eye, aliens cloaked in invisibility shields were everywhere. It didn’t take long for them to notice he was staring at them. Thus, the man was running again, and escaped the hunters as a stowaway on the ship.
Not long after the ship took off, he was found out and brought before the captain. Remember, all of this story is in first person. It was almost like I was living this! Eventually, I, the man, met the captain, who instantly noticed the blue, robotic eye, and had the man’s vision tested. Come to find out, the crew had a secret map that revealed secret locations of the Armor of God (yes, from the Bible) across the galaxy.
The captain had the man lead them to the first treasure, a piece of the Armor of God, on an abandoned planet. There, they walked through some ruins, learned about the other aliens in the invisibility cloaks, and ended up fighting a huge monster before finding the headgear to the Armor of God, which in-turn opened a black hole which nearly consumed them before they escaped. That is how the first dream ended.
The dream was so good, I didn’t even want to write it down. It was still dark, I had no idea as to what woke me (I didn’t even need to use the restroom), and so I hurried my way back to sleep. Thank the Lord I am also capable of going to sleep within one minute or I might’ve lost this story, though having my eye scrapped out was hard to forget.
When I returned to sleep, the second dream picked up much later in the story. I was with a woman and an alien whose spirit showed in the middle of a hollow shell of a body. We were stuck on an evil man’s ship and were waiting to see what their he would do. This ship was known throughout the galaxy as terrorist’s ship and a group you either ran or hid from. You never fought them nor did business with them. They were the aliens in the invisibility cloaks.
Fearing for our lives, we managed to break out of the cell and ran for it. The alien sacrificed himself for the woman and I, and we made it to the ship the man had originally stowed away on. The alien was tortured for helping us escape. The terrorists, better known as a raiders under the guidance of Satan, wanted the blue, robotic eye to find the Armor of God for themselves.
Upon returning to the original crew from the first dream, the man saw through the captain and realized he was an evil man as well. He wasn’t even human! He just looked human (a fact I found out later). The man and the woman escaped his ship as well, stealing a much smaller vessel in the cargo bay, and made their way towards a huge planet. The planet was covered in a wall invisible to the average eyes, but thanks to the robotic eye, the man saw the path in clearly.
It was here that the two dreams became interesting (I know, right!?) After clearing the wall and escaping the ship of the people they thought they could trust, the man and woman headed towards the planet. As they entered the atmosphere, their ship withered and burned to ash. Then, as they fell towards the earth, they embraced one another and fell through the flame, but did not die, nor were they in pain.
The two of them landed safely, and mysteriously, onto the surface of what looked like paradise. Before they could even get a full image of the landscape, a glowing, bright hand (as bright as the sun) covered the man’s eyes. I, through the man’s eyes, looked down at the bare feet of sunlight of the being walking past me from left to right. I felt a shiver of fear all over my body, and though I had moved freely throughout the dream, here I froze. The last thing I saw was the back of a man as bright as the sun in midday, clothed in a white robe.
In conclusion, I had dreamed I made it to heaven, and saw Jesus, after a long journey with aliens across the galaxies. What you have just read is essentially what I write every time I have an epic dream. I include what was seen, what was experienced, what was felt, and what was memorable. This is how all of my stories begin – a simple idea sometimes one paragraph, or sometimes three pages. It is simply a dream, idea, thought, or emotion written down.
After I have written a summary of the story, which can happen in one sitting or across several months, I do an outline. I am very particular about plotlines. I like to know the beginning, middle, and end before I even start writing the story. I like to know where I am going.
Now don’t get me wrong. There have been times where I had the outline fully written out and one good scene changes the entire story. The outline simply maps out a direction. It is not finalized until I am near the end, and even when I am just editing, I can decide I want to change the end, like I did with my first book.
The outline usually takes a day, or a few weeks. It just depends on what I’m writing at that time. You don’t come up with over a hundred stories by focusing one finishing one. You write whatever comes to your heart. I told you, Alexander Parsons told me to keep a notebook or phone on me in case an idea struck. That has led me to a great many ideas.
Another thing my beloved former teacher taught me was to write every day. This habit is hard to maintain, but it is necessary. Writing every day establishes a rhythm, it helps with memory, it forces me to use my mind, and keeps me in the state of mind that writing is needed. If I wake every day expecting to write, my mind will be in a constant state of editing, writing, and creating. It is a habit. I even have a daily alarm on my calendar that says, “Stop… write something amazing.”
It usually takes a month for the summary of the plot and the outline to be completed. Some stories I did a summary and outline in a day, and some I still need to do the outline. It just depends on how the story will develop and how many scenes I feel will be needed to not only develop the characters but to ultimately point the reader to Christ. After the outline is finished, I am ready to write.
Many people who know me know that I can be writing at any time. I could be at a game, playing video games, reading, watching tv, writing, or working. If an idea comes to mind, I will write it down. For the next eleven months of my life, I will write whenever the mood strikes me. The only time I refrain from writing is when I go to church, which I can get an idea in right before and right after service begins.
I have a really bad habit of “zoning out” or daydreaming. I have even found myself staring at someone as a thought crossed my mind. I like to visualize what I’m writing before I put it to paper. Even now, I am visualizing the next scene to a story I’m writing as I write this blog post. It never stops. I picture every scene like it’s a movie so that when I get ready to write it, the idea and direction have already been determined.
As I travel from scene to scene, months go by. Sometimes I can sit at a computer and write for hours and still have more I want to write. Sometimes I can sit at a computer and stare, unsure of how to word the scene or decide which direction to go next. Though I have an outline, it doesn’t provide all of the details. The details come as I write.
Once I am finished writing the book, mistakes and all, it takes another set of months (2-3) to edit the book. Trying to find all the mistakes in 100,000 words and 400-850 pages is difficult, especially when you know the language of the author. You tend to fill in words or skim over errors because you know what you meant to say.
The fastest I’ve ever finished a book was within a year. The longest it took me to finish a book was over ten years. I started writing when I was twelve and held off on finishing the book until I felt I had enough training and knowledge to finish it, which turned out to be a good move for me, personally.
After I graduated college in May of 2012, I decided it was time to complete works, thus leading to the long list of books you all will be reading soon and movies you will one day watch. My first novel was completed by February of 2013. The next novel took two years, but in the meantime, I finished two other poetry books. In 2015, I started another two poetry books, and finished those in 2017. Then, in 2017, a slump year, I had branched out into many different projects and was editing, while writing, while adding poems to one book, and removing poems from another book. 2018, I returned to my stride, as I finished writing, not editing, my third novel, and I started writing movies. My job was slow enough for me to write all day, and it was amazing. I had never gotten paid to write, and though they weren’t paying me to write, what they wanted me to do was done by 10am and I had to be there until 5pm… You know I write all the time. This was the opportunity of a lifetime. I often came to work expecting to write for 8-9 hours. Sorry, if that offends you, former employer. I did do my job very well though.
This year (2019) has been an editing year. I want all of my works to be ready for publish. I arguably could’ve been published sooner, but like I said, I branched out into too many projects at the same time. I’m also a perfectionist, so most of my books are on their third edit by me, and I’m looking to get another edit from an outside source, which costs money (if you want to help fund some things, let me know!).
2020 is looking like release year, which is great because it will establish the trend. Eventually, I want to be a full-time writer and get paid handsomely for it. I want to be able to write three books or two shows per year. Of course, I’m speaking as a single, childless man, so those are obviously subject to change. However, as long as I am single and childless, I want to finish a minimum of three books a year for the next 20 years. I have over 100 stories to write. Writing one book a year will take over 100 years.
I eventually want to establish a relationship with an editor and publisher as well so those processes and funding options can be established early on. It’s not easy being a new writer and not being screwed over for your work. I want to get paid for the story I wrote. I want to get PAID what is owed to me. Too many publishers are robbing writers. Why do you think writers went on strike a little over a decade ago?
All in all, that’s how a book gets written in a year, by me. 365 days of writing a summary, doing an outline, writing the pages and details, editing, and then searching for the right publisher. I know, I finished my first book six years ago and it’s still not published. I know. Perfectionism helps no one, and sometimes you just have to take the leap of faith. I’m finally doing that now. Let me be.
To anyone wondering how they can do the same, remember: keep a notebook or charged phone on you at all times so you can write down the idea when it strikes. Make it a habit to write something, anything(!), down every day. You can write about what you will be doing that day for all I care. Just make sure you get 1,000 words in a day. 1,000 words a day turns into 100,000 words in 100 days. That’s a third of the year. Most publishers like a book to be less pages than that. I’m nearing 3,000 words just for this post alone. It’s not easy, but do it if you want to do it.
Also, learn to value and take breaks. Your mind does need a rest from time to time. My breaks usually came on Sunday, the Lord’s day, or just out of sheer fatigue. I’ll probably take another break from writing after this blog is posted.
Thank you to everyone who is eager to read one of the books mentioned in the Upcoming Projects page or in the preview sections of the Finished Works page (go read!). I love that people haven’t given up on me, even though I have been dragging my feet on getting published. I’m just about there. I have the finances, I have the faith, and I’m ready to leap. Continue to be patient with me. It’s worth the wait!
Thanks for reading,