My biggest problem as a writer has always been finishing.
Like many writers, I’ve got a harddrive (and a cupboard) full of abandoned manuscripts or handwritten foolscap tomes that I’ve written and rewritten.
And, let me tell you, I’ve been writing books since I was 12 (that was way back in 1979), so I’ve got quite a few books either completed or partially completed, most of which will never see the light of day.
Fast forward to 2002.
I wrote a few short stories and I won a few awards. Yeah, I got a publishing contract, too. And an option from a major publishing house on a novel I’d written.
It was those shorter works that gave me hope – convinced me that my writing had reached the point where it wasn’t garbage.
And then my muse died…
I’m not going to waffle on about what happened. It’s all a bit painful and superfluous now. Let’s just say I didn’t write fiction for a very long time.
But I did write.
I wrote a PhD.
I wrote HUNDREDS of travel articles, reports, and other pieces. I was published and PAID for my writing over and over again.
Which kind of told me that my writing didn’t suck.
Then, in January 2015 the muse returned (at the insistence of two of my characters, mind you) and I started writing fiction again.
Lessons From University
I kicked butt at uni (Australians shorten words. UNI is short for ‘university’, and let’s be clear: university is university, it’s NOT ‘college’ which is a lesser institution here in Australia, one that doesn’t confer degrees).
Within a few months of commencing uni, I was getting High Distinctions in my majors.
I went on to get a First Class Honours which then enabled scholarship for my anthropology PhD.
My anthropology PhD allowed me to do what most anthropology grads only dream of: I went on to earn a six figure salary all because I could write and manage my time better than a lot of other people could.
How Did This Happen?
I figured out by the end of first semester at uni what the MARKET wanted.
Of course, the ‘market’ at uni was my lecturers and the writing conventions of each discipline I studied. It wasn’t hard to figure it out: read a lot of papers and articles, listen to my lecturers, glean the style and write what was expected.
Which worked fine…
But what about doing it for fiction?
How write to market when you’re writing fiction without:
- Writing something you don’t give a shit about?
- Selling out your dreams (let’s all jump on the cozy mysteries or ‘clean romance’ bandwagon, yee-haa. Now wait for a minute whilst I go vomit in the corner)?
- Knowing what the market actually wants?
Chris Fox is one person who’s got an answer:
It’s called ‘Write to Market: Deliver a Book That Sells‘.
So, I’ve read Chris’s book.
In fact, I’ve read three of his books over the past week.
Chris talks like an Aussie.
I like that.
He doesn’t crap on with loads of personal anecdotes in the books, he gets straight to the point and is blunt about it, just like Australians do.
I’ve decided to implement his advice and put it to the test.
Can I use his system to research and write a book?
Which brings me to…(insert drummroll and taa daa!): the GRAND CHRIS FOX EXPERIMENT
What Evil I’m Planning:
Starting with the exercises outlined in Write to Market I’m going to research and write a novel in…wait for it 41 days.
Why forty one days?
Easy. As I write this, it’s Sunday 21 August 2016
I want the novel completed for my beta readers by 30 September.
I’m going to record a short video of my daily progress or write up a blog post of how I did (a video depends on how photogenic I feel and whether my nasally nerd voice irritates me too much).
Each day I will set the next day’s task.
So my task for 22 August (Day 1) is:
Find my market
How will I go?
Let’s check back in tomorrow and find out.