The Small, Nagging Voice

Yesterday I finished the first draft of my Kormak novel, Mask of the Necromancer. I did it ahead of schedule, just carried along by the flow of the writing. You’d think I’d be happy, but no, being a writer and a neurotic, I’ve found a way to make myself unhappy about this. Since I believe in spreading the misery, I thought I would share my method with you.

This week I made a commitment to write 3000 words a day, 50% more than I normally would. Mostly this was a result of reading Rachel Aaron’s 10K a day article and recognising the truth of it. One of the big changes I made to my work routine was to set Freedom for one hour instead of 30 minutes, which is normally how long I write for to avoid RSI problems. When I was younger I used to write in one and two hour bursts and I was a lot more productive back then.

Guess what? It turns out I am still more productive writing in longer bursts. It gives me time to settle into my rhythm just like Rachel says. I actually exceeded my target of 3K a day every day this week. So why am I unhappy? I mean I finished the book.

Indeed. But I still have that 3K a day commitment and I don’t know what to write today. Should I start something new or should I get on with revising the Kormak book and prepping Sky Pirates for general release. Common sense says that I should do that. These are projects that will earn me money and I have some non-negotiable deadlines ahead for some of this stuff. I really should just settle down and do it. But…

I made that commitment; 3K a day. It would be cheating if I don’t do it. I know this is stupid but there is this little nagging voice in my head that keeps squeaking away anyway. I suspect a lot of writers are like this. They get ideas fixed in their mind, small neurotic obsessions, that niggle away at them. In the great scheme of things, it matters not a jot what I do today, but it matters to me, now, with that monkey chatter in my backbrain. It’s distracting me and working against productivity.

Intellectually I know there is more to writing than simply producing a quota of words. I know the editing and the rewriting is just as important as the initial draft. The problem is that it does not matter what I know intellectually. The voice is nagging away. It has not even stopped while I am writing this.

I know I should just make a decision and go with it. In ten days, let alone ten years, it won’t matter what I did today as long as I do something constructive. Now if I can only find a way to convince the voice of that.


  1. Well, that’s the work of a writer, isn’t it – managing the neuroses.

    Great article about 10K a day, by the way – thanks for the link.

    • Indeed. That is the truth (about the neuroses). It’s one of the thing’s we’re paid for and one of the more difficult ones. Mmm- there may be a blog post in this. Thanks for the idea, Matt!

  2. Scott Mcsloy says


    Just finished Shadowblood.
    Absolutely superb book.
    Will there be anymore ebooks in the Terrarch Chronicles?

    • Thanks, Scott! Glad you enjoyed the book :). No plans for more right at this moment. Long term I plan to (eventually) cover the human rebellion in the Terrarch world and then go steampunk and zombie as the Industrial/Alchemical revolution hits and the consequences of the undeath plague work out. One useful consequence of some of the characters being so long-lived is that they will get to see a lot of history if they survive. Dunno when I will get round to that though.

      I am currently formatting my anime/John Carter/cyberpunk/Dying Earth influenced fantasy novel Sky Pirates for release and next up will be my first Kormak novel, Mark of the Necromancer. I also have a couple of 40K novels to write so my cup runneth over with work at the moment.

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