Brandon Sanderson’s Write-a-thon

Last Friday, I watched fantasy author Brandon Sanderson’s online streaming “Write-a-thon.” As he says on his blog:

Last Friday I did a live writing session to benefit the Waygate Foundation and Worldbuilders. The session was recorded and you can see it here. Thanks to everyone who donated and who gave suggestions in the chat during the recording!

At its peak, there were some seven hundred of us writers and Sanderson fans (“Fandersons” as someone quipped), so it was a very lively space.  During a Q&A portion, I did manage to get one question in there, which you can find at the 1:56:55 mark.  It went something like this:

Hannifin: Do you find it harder to write as you continue further into a project?

Sanderson: Yes. The hardest point usually is the second part of the middle. If you split a book into four chunks, chunk three is the hardest part. When I get to the ending, that usually is easier. Yeah, no matter what I do, it feels like that’s the hard part of it.

I was curious to ask this question because I know it’s certainly true for me; the “second part of the middle” is exactly where I am in The Dark Wizard, and my progress has been very slow. Of course, I haven’t worked on nearly as many projects as Sanderson. But the fact that a much more experienced and successful author finds the same difficulty is clearly a sign that I am a genius. Of course, it’s likely that this a very common experience among a lot of writers; there are just more story elements that have to be balanced carefully in the third quarter, and they must be used in a way that moves the story toward its climax.

The short story Sanderson began writing based on audience suggestions was a bit too outlandish for me to get impassioned about, but it was fascinating to see another writer working in real time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other writer do something like this. Fun stuff! Here’s the full four-hour stream:

Writing nonseriously

Earlier this year, I wanted to find out what self-publishing an eBook for Amazon’s Kindle was like. So I quickly wrote a terrible fantasy book. It was a ridiculous story featuring awful writing, and I gave it a cheap home-made cover. I used a pseudonym for the author’s name and did no promotion for it. Would it sell? After six months, it sold! One copy! 65 cents for me! Cha-ching!

Obviously, it was not a serious endeavor, and I still aspire to be traditionally published. But quickly writing a really bad fantasy without worrying much about quality or editing was very helpful. I become a bit of a perfectionist with my work sometimes; I become afraid to write, fearing my work will not be good enough. So writing something that I consciously know is not-so-serious is rather therapeutic. And fun.

So I’m going to do it again, but this time through the blog of fake author Nicholas Oringuard, as he writes his epic fantasy, “Children of the Shattered Cosm”, which will end up being one of the longest fantasy novels ever written. (Sure, why not?) It tells the story of twelve children from twelve different worlds who slowly discover that their worlds are linked and that their own spirits are pieces of a grander shattered spirit who had the power create worlds. The children learn they must unite their spirits to save their worlds from destruction. Or something like that.

Check it out here. If you want to.