A writer like you: David Chesney
Meet David Chesney, a snowboarder, gadget lover, and indie author.
He is currently working on a YA fantasy series about underdogs, trapped demons, and angry gods called The Simulacrum. His current favorite author is Patrick Rothfuss because of his artistic style with words, but not so much his timeliness with trilogy conclusions.
David published As the Earthen Stag Walks in 2017, a story about a frail boy whose village feels the wrath of a destructive god and is forced to flee for his life, discovering a hidden talent to tap into powerful artifacts on his journey. This is the first book in a trilogy series that chronicles his coming of age and rising role against evil.
You’ll love David’s “cold turkey” approach to avoiding distractions, his accept-the-crap tactics to overcome the inner critic, and his big writer dreams.
Let’s dive into the interview, shall we?
Why are reading and writing so important to you?
Reading was something that I struggled with as a kid which, I’m sure like many others, felt like it was forced upon me during grade school. I envied others who actually enjoyed the act of reading and could set aside the distractions, but I was too busy playing video games to develop those habits while I was young. Once the book report obligations were fulfilled, my mind would immediately turn to something that felt more gratifying. It wasn’t until I was forced to read a few good books for me to take a deeper interest in reading, one of which was Ender’s Game. Those were the key turning points that started bridging the gap between literature and my interests in sci-fi and fantasy, planting those first seeds of my writing interest.
I didn’t actually take writing seriously until my late twenties. Not that I wasn’t interested, but life gets in the way, you know? There were some moments in grade school where I dazzled my teacher with some imaginative creative writing, even to the point where she encouraged me to publish, but there were other things on my mind. NO, not video games, at least not all the time. Sports took a big role in my life during high school, pretty much taking up all my free time. Then came college, social activities, a career, adult responsibilities. Looking back I wonder if my youth would’ve been better spent pursuing my creativity in writing instead of other activities. But of course, hindsight is twenty-twenty.
So to really get down to why reading/writing is important to me: It’s a pursuit that I owe myself. It’s that nagging “what-if” that’s been in the back of my mind that would’ve grown into regret had I continued to ignore it. I’m proud to say I’ve read more books than just Ender’s Game now!
What prevents you from writing, and what tactics do you use to overcome those writing barriers?
Distractions and procrastination. If I wasn’t so comfortable with typing my stories on a computer I’d restrict myself to pen and paper, keeping all electronics a mile away from me while I write. Social media and YouTube are black holes that pull me into an inescapable void of doing anything but writing. I quickly learned that in order to achieve any level of efficiency I needed to set aside a consistent writing schedule that placed me away from my home. Lucky for me there’s a library fairly close to where I currently live with ample desk space and wi-fi, but that wasn’t enough. The distractions still came and my favorite websites were just a click away, and then there was always that damn phone in my pocket that begged me to check a notification that buzzed, which turned into a thirty-minute session of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram.
So I did what had to be done. I went Cold Turkey. Literally. I use a program on my computer called Cold Turkey that blocks my access to certain websites for a set amount of time. This, combined with putting my phone away in my backpack during my set library hours has been the forced discipline I need in order to write.
But, of course, then I ran into the same problems that every writer experiences: the inner critic and crippling self-doubt that prevents actual words from appearing on paper.
How did you learn to combat the inner critic?
I think everyone subjects themselves to these feelings, even if they aren’t trying to write a novel, when they come face to face with something that will reflect their skill in some way. Most people only want to expose their good side. It can be difficult to do something when you’re almost positive the end result is going to be anything less than spectacular. I often find myself staring at blank pages or half-finished scenes when I feel like my ideas aren’t fresh, imaginative, or in any way interesting. I suspect the next phrase, sentence, or even rest of the chapter is going to be utter crap. I’ve found that the only way to break through those moments is to accept them and plow through them anyway. If crap is all I have in my head then crap is what’s going to go onto my page. The time I justify to sit back and marinate in order to rearrange things or redo a scene just isn’t worth the sacrifice of productivity. It’s much more efficient for me to get a bad idea out of my system and make way for the fresher thoughts and more creative nuggets. Plus, half the time I revisit what I wrote and realize it wasn’t even half-bad and can be salvaged in the next re-write!
So to sum up my approach, accept the doubt and move on with the writing. Shake my head if I must, but at least make a productive session out of it and be comforted by the thought that I can come back later and obliterate it out of my book if I feel so inclined.
What is your ultimate writer dream?
To make so much money off my books that I’m richer than the Queen of England! Looking at you with envy, J.K. Rowling. But in all honesty, being able to support myself off an income from my books would be the ultimate dream for me. To be able to write full time and channel all of my energy into creating stories would mean freedom at its highest level.
I’ve also thought about how I’d like to grow if I ever reached this point, and I decided that I would absolutely love to teach. I’ve always enjoyed teaching experiences and guiding others, and to be able to share my passion for writing with people who share the same pursuit as mine would be extremely rewarding. Becoming a professor or perhaps even starting a foundation or charitable organization would be the ultimate upon ultimate writer dream for me.
Where can we connect with you?
If you have more questions for David, feel free to share them in the comments below.
My FREE THE WRITER takeaway is that writing is something I owe myself. Writing makes my soul happy. Can’t that be reason enough to do it?
So let’s free the writer this week by accepting the crap and writing just because it makes us happy. Are you in?