Last week I was fighting myself every single day to sit down and write. I was showing up in writing Facebook groups begging for a sprint like a junkie, like it was the only thing that could get me to produce.
“What is going on?” I thought. Granted, I can be pretty undisciplined. But I’m not normally that bad. And I was practically at the end of my—
Oh. That was it. This is my thing, my pattern at the end of any manuscript, and I’ve finished eleven now so I really should have caught on faster. Somehow the last 10,000 words are the hardest to write, and I can’t tell you why. I know what’s going to happen in the plot, I know how to get there, and that’s normally all I need to work really fast. But at the end of a manuscript, it just . . .
I don’t know. It’s like I have this sense of impending doom that I’m never going to pull all the threads together in the end, so maybe I just won’t write the end.
Anyway, once I identified the problem, I already knew the answer. No more sprints. The last 5-10K words always means a marathon for me, 11/11 times so far. And a marathon only happens two ways: isolation at a writing retreat (which is how I prefer to start my manuscripts) or isolation from my children (whom I love but who are not conducive to writing).
Both of these things require money. You should definitely pay that money. That may sound easy for a published, earning author to say, but the thing is, I thought about it this way before I ever earned a dime. This is where you have to take off your artist’s smock and put on your business suit.
It breaks down like this: all businesses require investment. If they’re just starting out, they must make a capital investment in product, payroll, facilities, etc before they ever turn a profit. And businesses who earn profits reinvest in themselves by making capital improvements. They designate a specific part of their profit to go right back into their business so they can grow.
I’ve chosen to make my financial investment in my writing business in two ways: job-training and capital improvements. I told myself before I ever earned a dime that I’d reinvest 10% of anything I made back into my writing. For me, job-training means spending money on 1-2 writing conferences each year, and capital improvement means paying for one writing retreat each year, and a babysitter at the end of each manuscript.
So that’s what I did. I hired a babysitter, locked myself in my room, and worked until I cranked out the remaining 5000 words I’d been chipping at for a week in a single day. But it’s done. And investing in myself made it possible. I believe in me, so I put my money where my mouth is and as always, the bet paid off. I’m an excellent employee that way even when my boss pushes me extra hard.
Melanie Bennett Jacobson is an avid reader, amateur cook, and champion shopper. She consumes astonishing amounts of chocolate, chick flicks, and romance novels. She lives in Southern California with her husband and three kids and a series of doomed houseplants. Melanie is a former English teacher who loves to laugh and make others laugh. In her down time (ha!), she writes romantic comedies for Covenant and maintains her humorous slice-of-life blog. Her sixth novel, Always Will, hits shelves in October. Melanie’s contemporary YA novels are represented by Alyssa Henkin.