The sky being the “limit” isn’t as inspirational as you might think. Paralysis tends to be the only product that state of affairs produces in any volume. That’s been my experience. Limitations, of one kind or another, channel the effort. It’s the conceptual version of what Gabriel might call Negative Space.
So the task, to save me from all this stultifying “freedom,” has been to create all the lines I need to fill in. I have met a ton of writers over the fifteen years or so we’ve been doing this stuff, and they all seem to take different amounts of time to do these things. I know somebody who can write a book in two fucking weeks. You might even own this book. I don’t think it’s their favorite book ever. But… man. Two weeks. It’s taken me two weeks to read a book before, sure. Like, if I have a lot of stuff going on maybe it will take me two weeks to read it.
I don’t know if I have that in me. Although, I guess I did write the second Precipice game in two weeks. Hm.
I knew John Scalzi before he was JOHN SCALZI, and I asked him for advice when I had a much, much worse idea for a novel four years ago. I told him that I was worried about raw volume. I can look over at the shelf from here, and see the books on it, and get kind of freaked out because I know that all the paper in there is fucking covered with words. Some of those books literally say John Scalzi on them.
What he told me is that you write short to write long. Maybe that is an incredibly normal thing for a writer to say to another writer, but I had never heard it. This advice is here included for three reasons. One, he’s done it many, many times so he probably knows. Two, it was the advice I needed when I needed it. And three, it is entirely possible that you need it also.
So now I exile as much shapeless void as I can, whenever I can. How many books? Three. Titles, arc, characters? Connections between, chronological and thematic overlaps? Yes. Now all I have to do is color. The names are all in, though. Had to be done, couldn’t stop. And I only let my worst propensities rule the day once, just one time, which has to be some kind of record.