I've been noticing a trend in the comments section of agent, author, and editor's blogs that I find interesting: many people immerse themselves in the "industry" long before they've even written a book (or at least edited it into something readable).
Now, everyone is different, so I don't mean to impose my own ideals on others. And as it is, I have a hard time calling myself a writer even though I have two books completely finished and a few more on their way. But since I don't have an agent yet or a book contract, I rarely tell people what I spend hours doing during the day (i.e. writing). So I don't understand calling myself a writer without finished products like some of these commentors do. Not that it's bad--it's just not what I would do.
What really surprises me in these comments on the blogs is that when people write "their book," it sounds like they are saying "THE" book. As in the only book they have in them. This is all fine and well if you want to publish just the one book and then move on with your life, but I've also noticed something else about the writers I would deem successful (aka writers with book contracts or books in print and usually the blog authors these others are commenting on). These writers don't have just one book. They have a gagillion ideas and are working ceaselessly to get them all on page. They also have a few complete and ready to go. They've paid their dues to the muse.
Shannon Hale, who is one of my writing heroes (though I've only met her once) has written in her blog that when one book is done, another is started right away. I think since her career began, she's only been without a project once and that's because she knew revisions for a finished project were on their way from her editor. Jo Rowling has said that when one HP was done, she would move on to the next book the very next day.
I think there is a very good lesson to learn from these two examples. True writers can not stop writing. They have so many projects to get out, that they can't stop themselves. They have to/need to write. And even though I consider myself an extreme hobbyist with writing right now, I find myself finishing one project and moving on to the next right away too. It encourages me that maybe, just maybe, I'm setting myself up to be a TRUE writer.
I hope this post doesn't sound pretentious. I only even post it in the hopes that this observation will help other wanna be writers. That they'll not put all their trust in one book and forget to expand their abilities. Because I think I did that at first.
Now I put the most pressing book ideas in five phases. In Phase I, the story is still in idea form, usually written up with a hook and set in the stew pot I like to call my brain. There are a lot in this phase right now, but here I can rank them so as to help me choose the most delicious ideas first. I'm researching pertinent information here too. Phase II is the outlining stage, with most of the research done (though I consider the research never done). Phase III is the actual writing and the other phases you can guess are rewriting and submitting. Maybe it's over-the-top organization, but it seems to work for me and keeps me excited about many projects.
So there is my observation of the week: I think one of the signs of a true writer is constant writing, constant story flow. Sure there will be lulls, but I don't think any real writer would stop at just one book. It's just not in their hard wire.