Thursday, December 6, 2007

Write, Dammit!

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.

2 comments:

MigThor said...

It's inspiration like this that every writer and aspiring writer needs to read. My normal schedule is 5 am to 7 am when I work, and 5 am to 3 pm when I'm not working. Morning is my best time. Saturday night is party time when I have a rum and coke, and send out completed manuscripts while listening to oldies but goodies.

But over the past five or so years, sleep and employment problems have kept me from this schedule, so I do the best I can. I needed to see things like "4000 words per day" and how many months you can get out a book manuscript. I've been trying to get a book published since I was a kid -- over forty years ago. Now, I live and work part time at an amusement park, so I have plenty of time to write. I'm still going after that elusive goal of getting a book published.

HorrorHound said...

I have been trying to write this one story for nearly 5 years. I'm still in school and that maybe the problem, though I can write well. I have a story in mind (and here and there parts of the story are in a booklet I keep around so, when I get a good idea I write it down) I also have a title and a half-finished prologue done,yet, nothing's coming to me anymore. I used to write as many words as I could fit into my schedule at school and home,but, now I'm more into reading your book Ghost Road Blues. I have finished Dead Man's Song and it was a great story! (my friend had gotten me that book withought knowing there was one before it) My mind is blank on my story and yearning to learn more about others. I am though, chasing after the goal to get this book published.(even though it's still in rough draft form)

I also have another talent for art, I'm not professional (of course) but, I was thinking of drawing Karl Rugar, he was one of my favorite characters from the story, if that's okay with you.