It don’t get done just standin’ there lookin’ at it – Part 2


This is the second installment of my (read: your/our) journey to pen the great American novel (or even the great American memoir/short story/how-to/self help, et al). The first step in that journey is to realize: IT DON’T GET DONE JUST STANDIN’ THERE LOOKIN’ AT IT.

But that’s just the first step. It’s like realizing that you’re not going to lose weight until you start eating right and exercising.

Being disciplined in your writing is like dieting. You get all pumped up about it at the beginning, but then temptations (the world) start knocking on your door. That email you answer when you should be writing is like drinking that one glass of wine when you are dieting. Likewise, having to take the kids to the dentist is like reaching for that left-over bag of Cheetos above the stove; or foregoing writing to attend the Rotary lunch is close to saying let’s go to McDonald’s tonight for dinner, honey). You get the picture.

You’ve started, but at the rate you’re going it will take two years to lose that ten pounds. But summer is only eight months away. Your choice? Either resign yourself to wearing the new bathing suit in the summer of 2017, or buckle down.

I started writing my third novel in December of 2014. I told myself I’d have it finished in a year. A worthwhile goal as my first novel had taken me three and a half years, and my second had taken me twelve years. Okay, I had a good excuse: I worked full-time in those years.

But I’m not working full-time now, so by the time August rolled around and I had only written a third of the book, I had no excuse.  At the rate I was going, the novel wouldn’t be finished until mid-to late 2016. Solution? Buckled down.

At 2 p.m. on December 25, 2015, I penned the two most beautiful words in the English language – The End. It had been almost a year to the day since I began writing the novel. I have to tell you, I felt damn good. 

So what actually happened when I “buckled down?” What did I do differently? To find the answer, I did the math. It told the tale. Before I “buckled down”, I was writing 154 words a day. That worked out to about two-thirds of a page a day. Five days a week. That output is just slightly more than a dead person could do.  

I did the rest of the equation. From mid-August to December 25, I wrote 500 words per day. OMG! That’s two pages a day. How did I ever do it? I asked, tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Two pages a day is not exactly what experienced writers would call “buckling down.” But the truth of the matter is if I had written 500 words (two pages) a day, five days a week. from the very start, I would have finished the novel (84,000 words) in mid-August, not late December. Those four months would have meant the novel would be firmly on its way to being published, instead of still being in its editing stage.

The moral of this story? Every one of you reading this post can write 500 words a day. It’s not all that hard, believe me. And what is so magical about accomplishing that goal? It means you can work full-time and still get your book written within eight months.

Now you have no excuses. Just get the book written. 

Remember – it won’t get started just sittin’ there lookin’ at it. And it won’t get finished– just standin’ there talkin’ about it.


For any of you looking for a great editor, I found just the person.  A fellow author, his name is Edmond Addeo. I had him do my latest novel. He was quick, efficient and thorough. And fairly priced. I highly recommend him. You can send him a message at for more information on his services.


As soon as my third novel is out, you’ll be the first to know if you click “Follow” in the sidebar menu of this page. Not only will I be grateful, I’ll even send you the first chapter of my novel free. (Already a follower? You can request a sample of The Custer Papers via email at or comment below.)

2 thoughts on “It don’t get done just standin’ there lookin’ at it – Part 2


    Well done!



    The 13th San Francisco Writers Conference & Open Enrollment A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community Keynotes: Annie Barrows, Jane Friedman, Ann Packer, T. Jefferson Parker February 11-15, 2016 / / Mike’s blog: @SFWC /

    The 8th San Francisco Writing for Change Conference Writing Fiction and Nonfiction to Make a Difference Saturday, September 10th, 2016 /

    Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents Helping Writers Launch Careers Since 1972 / 415-673-0939 / 1029 Jones Street / San Francisco, 94109 Submission instructions and other helpful information, and info about Michael’s nonfiction consulting services are on our site. Michael is the author of How to Write a Book Proposal and How to Get a Literary Agent, and coauthor of Guerrilla Marketing for Writers: 101 Weapons for Selling Your Work. A downloadable proposal template is available at

    • Thanks, Mike. Check Chapter 1 again. I edited it for the better. What do you think?
      Anyone reading this … Mike Larsen sponsors the best literary Writer’s Conference in existence. If you’re serious about the craft of writing, sign up today.

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