This summer has been amazing! Two months ago we launched ANOM: Awakening, my debut novel. Today, we currently rank #6 among Amazon's superhero e-books.
But that's not all! This summer has been busy. I had the chance to go on vacation to Oak Island, NC and before that, Vanessa and I spent two days earning our F-licence to coach Youth Soccer. We've also run the kids back and forth to various summer camps and swimming pools more times than I can count.
And best of all, this summer I put some serious time into my writing. I finished up my second draft of a middle-grade fantasy novel (more on that at a later date) and I've written the first eight chapters of the second book of the ANOM series.
But as September looms on the horizon, a middle-aged man's heart turns to thoughts of football. This Saturday is my fantasy football league's annual draft, and it got me to thinking: How is writing like fantasy football?
HAVE A PLAN
When you're getting ready for a fantasy football draft, it's important to have a plan. You want to have an idea about what players you want to target and when you want to draft certain positions. This will help you avoid obvious mistakes like drafting your kicker in the second round (and for those of you uninitiated to fantasy football, that's a big no-no).
The same is true of writing. Before I started working on the ANOM sequel, I sat down and sketched out a rough plan of the major events of the novel. This gives me a direction when I'm writing because I know where I ultimately want to go. I do the same planning for each chapter. Before I begin, I take time to think about what events should happen by the end of the passage. I don't always know how I'm going to get there, but at least I have a point of reference to guide my writing.
GO WITH THE FLOW
As important as it is to have a plan, it's also possible to over-plan for a fantasy football draft. This is the only way to capitalize on the mistakes of your opponents. If you've already decided what position you're going to take in the first round of your draft (let's say you're locked into taking a running back with your first pick), than you can miss out on serious value if you don't draft a wide receiver like Antonio Brown (the experts' pick for best fantasy player in 2016) when he falls into your lap.
Just like fantasy football, if you over-plan your novel you can miss out on golden opportunities in your writing. In fact, one of my favorite things about writing are these "surprises". Case in point, when I started ANOM: Awakening I had no plans to write about a character named Major Stuart Ellison. But then, in the second chapter of my book, I wanted to show events in the story that my main character was not present to witness. That's when the character of Ellison was born. He started out as a narrative necessity, but by the time ANOM was finished, Ellison transformed into the co-main character of the entire book!
IT TAKES TIME
In 2014 the Chicago Tribune reported that American workers spend two hours a week on fantasy sports while on the job. That time "away from work" cost America $13 billion in lost productivity.
Just like fantasy sports, writing takes time! No matter what you're working on (a short story, your first novel, your collective memoirs) it's not getting written by talking about it or even thinking about it. You need to carve out the time to sit in front of you computer (or notebook) and WRITE!
Trust me. If writing is important to you (like it is to me) that time will be worth it!