In the 1960s, Stanford began the Marshmallow Experiment. In that experiment, they put four-year olds in a room with a marshmallow. The children were told they could eat the marshmallow, but if they waited 15 minutes they would be given a second marshmallow. Two out of three kids ate the marshmallow before the 15 minutes were up.
The 1/3rd of participants who held out for the second marshmallow were more successful later in life.
In today's culture, we need more marshmallow sniffers.
Over the last couple of months, I've been working at rewriting the current novel. And, yes, I know I could edit that sentence to simply read "I've been rewriting"--I'm deliberately leaving in "working at" because that's exactly what it is. It's not a quick fix process; it's a messy, fussy, time-ssucking process. I'm not rushing myself because I don't have to. And, there have been major changes to the plot lines, to character profiles, and the overall trajectory of the book.
Part of my uneasiness is that I've not had a new book out in a couple of years (almost) and my back catalog isn't getting much attention. To help get some exposure on the backlist I joined a Facebook group or two that had some promotional packages where they advertise your novel for you for $25. That resulted in no sales. An earlier promo that I got in on with a different marketing group was normally $25, but I got in on the beta. No sales. And, a third one was free and still no sales. I get BookBub daily deal emails and I have a Kindle packed with free books, yet I still go to the library often or buy books because while I am hoarding books, I always have a backlist of books I want to read more than the free ones.
Writers in the Facebook groups I'm in tend to jump on latest trends. The aforementioned FB group is full of people who seem incapable at times of writing an error free sentence. These same folks are churning out books right and left, it seems. They advise each other on how to get in on the shape-shifter themes or how to do keyword searches on Amazon to figure out how to best shame their own work. Podcasts I listen to talk about things like "page-stuffing" and other "tools" of marketing intended to boost page reads in Kindle Unlimited.
Meanwhile, I'm in the office working on a manuscript I finished back in June of 2017 and maybe getting a chapter a day squared away with revision and editing. Sometimes I have to write a new chapter to go with the major plot lines. For instance, I added a whole new character who has his own baggage and issues. And, two characters who used to be married (which was a major part of the plot) aren't. So, there's that.
Anyway, while I'm chipping away at that, other folks are cranking them out. I checked out Kindle Scout recently and the LGBT novels were so poorly edited that I couldn't finish the samples. And, I'm not talking about a typo here or there--I'm talking about phrases like "a headache masturbated behind my eyes." Really? Did they mean "marinated"? There are amusing issues, sure, but they make me aware that I'm plodding along.
One example of this instant gratification is folks signing on to Patreon as writers, promising a certain number of essays, stories, or other written material per month for a fee. In other words, this is basically asking people to pay you to blog. I mean, I am trying lately to produce at least one or two posts a week here lately and what goes up here obviously isn't the stuff I'm spending lots of time on. But I'm not going to ask you to send me a dollar every time I blog.
Kindle Scout and Patreon, though, are just more recent versions of the instant gratification model that Twitter, Facebook, Medium, WattPad, and even online schooling that promises to get you a degree in 1/3rd of the time, are part of.
For me, the key is getting out of that mindset. As an online instructor of writing for almost 15 years, I was part of that system--and as you know from earlier posts, I don't believe you can teach writing in five, six, ten, or even fifteen weeks. But, having been immersed in an environment that not only said it could be done but that demanded we do it, I know I'm still deprogramming. It's like any other process. I wasn't converted to that instant gratification model overnight, and it's going to take me awhile to wean myself off.
Of course, being able to blah blah about it here helps. So does working on a different project when I stall out on revisions/editing/rewriting. Back when I was still working for other folks, it was common for me to focus on "work work" to the detriment of my writing time. I'm getting to the point where I'm starting to fill down time from the book with other projects or with supplemental work like listening to relevant podcasts or reading and researching.
I know I'll get the book finished. It just won't be today.
In the meantime, I'll be over here sniffing the marshmallows.