Why Writing Fiction Is So Hard

by James L. Rubart, @jameslrubart

Why is writing fiction so hard? The short answer: it just is.

The longer answer: Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.”He probably could have said, “In this world, when you try to write a novel, you will have trouble.”

From my experience, this has proven to be true. I sent in my latest manuscript to my publisher a few days ago and felt like I’d just finished a marathon. Circumstances outside of my control made writing this story a bear.

This wasn’t the first time. I can say the same thing about all of my novels so far. So why I am surprised when it happens again and again? When we write our novels, there will be troubles. I’ve come to accept that this is a fact. We don’t have a choice in the matter. So at this point I can react in one of two ways.

  1. I can moan and complain and ask, “Why do these things always happen to me!”
  2. I can embrace how Jesus finished his thought. “… but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

I can choose whether I let the circumstances dominate my thoughts, or chose to focus on how Jesus overcame the world. He was fully man, remember? We can do what he did.

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He overcame the trouble by focusing on the joy set before him. What is the joy set before you with regard to your stories? One life changed? One hundred? Crossing the line of a finished novel that you didn’t think you could complete?

Choose Now What You Focus On

You probably know by now that multi-tasking is a myth. The way our brains are wired, we can only focus on one thing at a time. And here’s the amazing part. We have free will. We get to choose! What is good and pure and lovely and full of hope, or the dark, fearful, and worrisome.

Yes, in this world, circumstances will buffet your plans, your dreams, your writing schedule, your word count … you will have trouble. But take heart. If you choose to, you can overcome the world.

“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
– G.K. Chesterton


The Long Journey to Jake Palmer

What if there was a place where everything wrong in your life could be fixed?

Corporate trainer Jake Palmer coaches people to see deeper into themselves—yet he barely knows himself anymore. Recently divorced and weary of the business life, Jake reluctantly agrees to a lake-house vacation with friends, hoping to escape for ten days.

When he arrives, Jake hears the legend of Willow Lake—about a lost corridor that leads to a place where one’s deepest longings will be fulfilled.

Jake scoffs at the idea, but can’t shake a sliver of hope that the corridor is real. And when he meets a man who mutters cryptic speculations about the corridor, Jake is determined to find the path, find himself, and fix his crumbling life.

But the journey will become more treacherous with each step Jake takes.

James L. Rubart is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons, and loves to send readers on journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories. He’s the best-selling, Christy BOOK of the YEAR, INSPY, CAROL and RT Book Reviews award winning author of eight novels as well as a professional speaker, co-host of the Novel Marketing podcast, and co-founder of the Rubart Writing Academy. During the day he runs his branding and marketing company which helps businesses, authors, and publishers make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington. More at www.jameslrubart.com

An Idea For The Pantser In Your Life This Christmas

by James L. Rubart, @jameslrubart

An Idea For The Pantser In Your Life This Christmas

As you might know, I voice the audio versions of my novels. In 2017, I expanded and started voicing other people’s books. One of them was Randy Ingermanson’s, How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method.

It was a blast doing it, because Randy created a story within the teaching, so I had a chance to do a bunch of character voices, along with getting a wakeup call: This die-hard pantser, needs the Snowflake Method.

I told Randy I’d never write another novel without using his method. He smiled as if he knew something I didn’t. Two weeks ago I found out what it was.

I said, “I’m going nuts, Randy. I can’t get this Snowflake Method to work for me!”

Randy said, “Here’s the read secret to using the Snowflake Method effectively. Use the parts that work for you. Throw the rest away. If none of it works for you, throw it all away.”

Light bulb moment. Spotlight moment! What I realized is while the Snowflake Method won’t work for me in the exact way it’s laid out in the book, many parts had already been working for me as I brainstormed my current story.

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Randy’s book made me think about issues I’d never considered before. Forced me to answer questions I’d never worried about till the end of my first draft. Gave me the perfect amount of structure within my pantser perspective.

And it’s working. I’m right in the middle of my latest manuscript, and once Randy freed me from having to do it precisely as the Snowflake Method is laid out, I started making serious progress.

As with anything, we have to mix and match. Ultimately we have to create our own, highly personalized way to craft our stories. If you’ve always leaned toward the pantsing spectrum, I encourage you to gleam some wisdom from How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method.

Yes, I’m telling to get Randy’s book. No, I don’t get any kind of kickback from recommending it. Yes, I want your and my stories to get better. I believe this is one way to do it.

(And if you like my narration, thank you. If you don’t, I think maybe Randy got in there and overdubbed the entire book.)


The Long Journey to Jake Palmer

What if there was a place where everything wrong in your life could be fixed?

Corporate trainer Jake Palmer coaches people to see deeper into themselves—yet he barely knows himself anymore. Recently divorced and weary of the business life, Jake reluctantly agrees to a lake-house vacation with friends, hoping to escape for ten days.

When he arrives, Jake hears the legend of Willow Lake—about a lost corridor that leads to a place where one’s deepest longings will be fulfilled.

Jake scoffs at the idea, but can’t shake a sliver of hope that the corridor is real. And when he meets a man who mutters cryptic speculations about the corridor, Jake is determined to find the path, find himself, and fix his crumbling life.

But the journey will become more treacherous with each step Jake takes.

James L. Rubart is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons, and loves to send readers on journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories. He’s the best-selling, Christy BOOK of the YEAR, INSPY, CAROL and RT Book Reviews award winning author of eight novels as well as a professional speaker, co-host of the Novel Marketing podcast, and co-founder of the Rubart Writing Academy. During the day he runs his branding and marketing company which helps businesses, authors, and publishers make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington. More at www.jameslrubart.com

When You Need An Excuse to Procrastinate On Writing Your Novel

by James L. Rubart, @jameslrubart

Most of my posts are serious musings on this publishing journey we’re all on. Same with my other Novel Rocket columnists. Yep, you’re ahead of me. Time for a few smiles. These videos did it for me, and what a great excuse to procrastinate for a few minutes! (Or more than a few.) If you only have time for one, do not pass go, do not collect $200,  go immediately to the third video.

Teddy’s Story Joint- Almost guaranteed to make you smile.

Word Crimes- For all you Weird Al fans

George Lucas In Love- I’ve saved the best for last. If you’re a Star Wars fan, even if you’re not, this one is gold. Yes, you’re going to have to procrastinate for almost nine minutes with this one, but I think it’s worth it. Enjoy!


The Long Journey to Jake Palmer

What if there was a place where everything wrong in your life could be fixed?

Corporate trainer Jake Palmer coaches people to see deeper into themselves—yet he barely knows himself anymore. Recently divorced and weary of the business life, Jake reluctantly agrees to a lake-house vacation with friends, hoping to escape for ten days.

When he arrives, Jake hears the legend of Willow Lake—about a lost corridor that leads to a place where one’s deepest longings will be fulfilled.

Jake scoffs at the idea, but can’t shake a sliver of hope that the corridor is real. And when he meets a man who mutters cryptic speculations about the corridor, Jake is determined to find the path, find himself, and fix his crumbling life.

But the journey will become more treacherous with each step Jake takes.

James L. Rubart is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons, and loves to send readers on journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories. He’s the best-selling, Christy BOOK of the YEAR, INSPY, CAROL and RT Book Reviews award winning author of eight novels as well as a professional speaker, co-host of the Novel Marketing podcast, and co-founder of the Rubart Writing Academy. During the day he runs his branding and marketing company which helps businesses, authors, and publishers make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington. More at www.jameslrubart.com

None Of Them Had It Easy. None.

by James L. Rubart, @jameslrubart

Are you a fan of the TV show, Biography?  A few years ago I got hooked on the show and binged on it for a few months.

Here are a few of the profiles/episodes I took a look at:

  • John Travolta
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Eminem
  • Jodie Foster
  • Robert Downy Jr.
  • Anthony Hopkins
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Plus another 10 or 20.

I’m fascinated by where these people came from, what got them from there to where they are now, and what they had to go through to arrive.

I was surprised. Every time.

I had this idea that many stars walked into their gifting/destiny with a few minor pebbles in the road, not a street where bombs had gone off and were still exploding.

ALL of the stories revealed serious setbacks before these stars achieved fame and fortune. All.

A repeating mantra when outsiders describe these people is,

  • “They were so incredibly determined.”
  • “They worked harder than anyone else.”
  • “They knew what they wanted, fixed their eyes on it and refused to give up.”
  • “No one came to see them at first, but they didn’t care. They just kept at it.”

I read an article on Kelly Clarkson in the September 7th issue of Entertainment magazine where she says, “A lot of people that I know, especially from Idol, don’t necessarily want to be singers or artists; they just want to be famous.”

Talent isn’t enough. We have to work hard. When the rain is falling. When it feels impossible.

A friend of mine, Caleb Breakey,  recently signed a three-book deal with Revell and he posted this photo on Facebook that I love:

It took him ten years of rejections, late nights, sacrifice, pain. But he did it. He persevered. He refused to give up.

I suppose I could have made this reflection much shorter and simply said, “Hey, it’s tough on everyone who wants to reach a dream, you’re not alone.”

But I think knowing others have been on and are on this path, helps.

Maybe you’ve “made it.” Been published. Reached all your goals. Wonderful. Maybe you’re just starting out, or are a ways along, but have so many more things you want to accomplish.

It comes down to this: You have to believe in yourself. When no one else does. There is no other choice. There is no other path.


The Long Journey to Jake Palmer

What if there was a place where everything wrong in your life could be fixed?

Corporate trainer Jake Palmer coaches people to see deeper into themselves—yet he barely knows himself anymore. Recently divorced and weary of the business life, Jake reluctantly agrees to a lake-house vacation with friends, hoping to escape for ten days.

When he arrives, Jake hears the legend of Willow Lake—about a lost corridor that leads to a place where one’s deepest longings will be fulfilled.

Jake scoffs at the idea, but can’t shake a sliver of hope that the corridor is real. And when he meets a man who mutters cryptic speculations about the corridor, Jake is determined to find the path, find himself, and fix his crumbling life.

But the journey will become more treacherous with each step Jake takes.

James L. Rubart is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons, and loves to send readers on journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories. He’s the best-selling, Christy BOOK of the YEAR, INSPY, CAROL and RT Book Reviews award winning author of eight novels as well as a professional speaker, co-host of the Novel Marketing podcast, and co-founder of the Rubart Writing Academy. During the day he runs his branding and marketing company which helps businesses, authors, and publishers make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington. More at www.jameslrubart.com