Something’s Gotta Give

Today I started writing a new book. A big book: hard cover, 250 pages, 85,000 words, due out in February, 2015. You read that right: 2015.

Since I finished writing my dissertation in early 2011, I haven’t undertake a project of this scope. Instead, I’ve focused on blogging and short-form ebooks. I approach this new project with excitement and trepidation. I have downloaded Scrivener, which I’ve played around with in the past but never fully committed to. This is going to be a major undertaking with much research and widely cast nets, so I’m hoping that Scrivener will help me organize all of the sundry details.

I’ve also got to make some choices. Life is already full, and writing 85,000 words between now and the end of the year is daunting. I cannot do it if I don’t simplify my life. So something’s gotta give.

Of course, the family will suffer, if only because I will be mentally preoccupied with ideas and deadlines, but I hope they won’t suffer too much. I’m coaching Little League again this summer, and there will be soccer games to attend and weekends at the family cabin.

I will continue to blog, both because I absolutely love the literary form of the blog post and the immediate responses I receive, and because the publisher, of course, wants this blog to be vibrant and robust right up to the time the book releases.

I can’t quit my day job because, contrary to popular opinion, writing Christian non-fiction doesn’t pay all the bills.

Here’s what I have changed:

I have canceled the Dish, so now we are watching only what we can get on the Roku (via Netflix and Amazon Prime). No more news or sports.

I will basically stop reading anything unrelated to the book’s subject. No more novels till next year. No manuscripts for friends’ books. No books for the Patheos Book Club.

That also means no endorsements (aka, blurbs) until next year.

Also, I will have to ignore the many requests that come in for writing advice. This pains me, because I really do value corresponding with aspiring writers — and I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today were it not for the help I received from Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, Mike Yaconelli, and other in the late 1990s.

And no more meetings for lunch or coffee with acquaintances and people passing through Minnesota. Again, I work very hard to make myself available to anyone who asks for time in person or on the phone. But, at least for the balance of 2013, that will stop.

This is the first pass at simplifying my life to write. If it doesn’t afford me enough time, then I’ll take another pass and cut out some other things.

What do you cut out of your life when you’re starting a big project?

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  • Kenton

    I stop helping strangers who have been beaten and left by the side of the road. (A timesaving tip I learned from both a priest and a levite.)

    • I seem to remember something in the Bible as well about Jesus withdrawing from the crowds….

  • If you’re looking to make money, try publishing one of those Amish love story novels. I hear they do well. Good Luck

  • I’m always trying to figure out what to cut/how to balance my life. Good luck to you Tony. It’s hard to find that balance.

  • Jeff Burns

    Tony, I think you are making the right choices. I am finishing up my doctorate this year and i had to cut out so much stuff that I loved just to meet my deadlines. This is what you are called to do and do not apologize for doing it. Things will ebb and flow between your book deadlines.

    Peace dude. Jeff

  • Also, I wish I knew before today that you had been giving out writing advice; I’d have emailed you about something!

  • With large projects in college and seminary, I had to cut out time in social media (Facebook, Twitter, whatever), but not the blog — no way, no day, was I going to cut out the blog. I also cut out responding to haters. I mean, seriously, why feed the monster within?

  • Mich

    Don’t give up the Dish yet…………
    Stanley Cup is about to commence! I could’t kick that habit even with Methadone.

  • “Today I started writing a new book. A big book: hard cover, 250 pages…”

    About what?? I am willing to wait for the book, but can you give a little hint on the focus?

  • Happy writing, Tony. Here’s hoping this is at least related to your proposed Why Pray? project–I was really looking forward to that one.

  • In all seriousness ditch the blog and keep the face to face visits and one on one interactions

  • Keith Rowley

    I LOVE Scrivener. I don’t think I could do any serious writing without it anymore.
    And apparently that post was too short so here is a filler sentence.

    • I keep meaning to swtich to Scrivener, but all of my projects keep pulling me back to word. Next book I write though, I’m starting out with Scrivener from the beginning.

  • Larry Barber

    Well, many years ago, when I was writing my Master’s thesis, I just cut out sleeping. It’s amazing how much you can get done when everybody else is asleep.

  • I won’t expect you to host me on a visit to Minnesota, but you’re always welcome at our place when you are in DFW.