I’m a very disciplined writer. It’s my day job, so slouching around the house, watching zombie flicks, or playing Snood pretty much doesn’t get the job done...though I have palyed hookey a few times and done each of those things (sometimes all at once).
But for the most part I believe in establishing and maintaing good work habits. I write every day, and I did that long before writing became my 9-5 job. I’m a believer in that saying: “If you write every day you get better every day.” I roll out of bed around 7:30 and by 8-ish I’m at my desk. I set goals for myself –usually 4000 words per day. If I write more, that’s great, but it doesn’t mean I can write less tomorrow. On weekends I scale it back to about 1000 words.
I’m also pretty structured in my approach to storytelling. I’m a list maker and a devoted believer in the power of the Outline. Mind you, I do allow for a lot of flexibility. I write my outline first and then knock out some character profiles. Then I sit down and draft out a very rough ‘preliminary synopsis’ of what the finished book might be like. I like complicated storylines and deep-reaching character development, and that has to be planned to some degree.
However I have never finished a project that bears much resemblance to the original outline. Books are organic and they’ll change in the telling. The outline allows me to remember the underlying logic of the story, but I often let the characters drive the car.
Also, as you develop a scene there is an internal logic that often necessitates story changes you did not initially predict. This is cause and effect as applied to writing, and that allows the story to take on a pattern closer to reality.
When I started writing novels it took about a year and a half to finish one; now it takes 4 to 6 months, and the process has become a lot more fun, too.