Thursday, April 29, 2010

WHAT'S YOUR WRITING "PROCESS"?

I was talking to an author the other day about his writing schedule. This man is a published novelist who hopes to support himself with his fiction one day. His advances and royalties are a nice source of income, but not enough to support him and his family. In order to say afloat and pay the bills, he has to "work" for a living, just like the rest of us. He carves out time to write in the evening, just after dinner and he writes for at least an hour every day.

Maybe you also have to work for a living. Or, perhaps you are fortunate enough to have another source of income that allows you to write full or part-time. Whatever your circumstance, I'm interested in how you structure your writing life. While some authors proclaim that they only write when the muse insists, it seems like many successful authors are more disciplined.

What is your process? Do you write every day? Do you write at the same time every day? How much time do you devote to your craft? How do you stay on track?

I'd like to start a discussion on this topic because it's one we tend to underplay. How do you approach the craft of writing? Please post here and we'll make sure your comments are read by all.

10 comments:

jseliger.com said...

Do you write every day?

Yes.

Do you write at the same time every day?

No, although I tend to write in the morning or late evening. Something about the afternoon puts me off.

How much time do you devote to your craft?

A lot, especially if grad school in English lit counts as time spent on craft.

How do you stay on track?

With a pair of rails and a great steam engine pulling me.

Anyway, when I'm working on first drafts I shoot for a thousand words a day and usually hit 500 – 1,000; most of the time I read what I did the day before first, fix that, and then go on. Once done, I go back through a printout, then make those changes on screen, then give it to friends, then make their changes, then let it sit, then go through it one more time.

Then I think "this time will be different," and it usually is, slightly, and then it's not.

Aspen said...

Do you write every day?

I try to, but I'm one of those people who just can't write if the inspiration isn't there. But there come weeks that I can accomplish something every day, then there are weeks where I seem to get a meager case of writer's block.

Do you write at the same time every day?

Hell no. But I write my best stuff late at night, after midnight preferably.

How much time do you devote to your craft?

Well, my major is Creative Writing. I think about my book whenever I'm driving, exercising, walking the dogs or in the shower. And I write/revise an average of two hours a day. But I'm always on the lookout for inspiration 24/7, so yeah, a lot of time.

How do you stay on track?

By keeping myself inspired. Listening to music I've dedicated to my story. By having pictures and tagwords all around me, on my mirror, in my car. And by reading a lot. When I read something spectacular, I get the urge to write.

My process is more than just writing. I sometimes rehearse dialogue from my book to make sure it feels right. I sometimes pretend to be one of my characters to get muses for what they should do next. My story really affects every part of my life.

Vincent Rupp said...

A good day starts with the putting on of slippers and a trek to the writing room. This room features a desk, a computer, a mug of coffee (booze at nights), and few distractions such as Internet. Cats are acceptable provided they are lethargic and not overly cute.

The only way to stay on track is to have a plan with a convenient metric. Words per day works well, and is adjustable based on how much time you have. 600 is a good target if I have 2-3 hours. Then I don't do anything else until that's finished. (Editing down previous days' work before doesn't count against the target.) That's 600 good words, mind you, not 600 I write just so I can say I made the goal. Cheating myself is strictly illegal.

Waking up fairly early is important so the pressures of other chores don't intrude. In summer when daylight comes in by 6 AM, writing can be be finished by 10 at the latest. Evenings after everything else is done also works well, and lack of sobriety doesn't interfere with folding the laundry, for example.

After that, I find it useful to review the literary agents I've queried and wonder if my submission was really bad enough not to warrant the five seconds an e-mail would require. This is where 6-10 miles of running helps me ignore the pointlessness of spending so many hours writing when I could be learning Spanish, practicing parkour, or re-watching the entire series of Friends.

Donna B said...

I write every day...unfortunately, not on a book...YET. I just started blogging a year ago this June. I had wanted to do a blog for a good 6 months or so.

Prior to that, I have kept five subject spiral journals since I was 18 and am now, 62.

I write to friends since I live far from most of them, since moving to Nevada for my husband's job. Writing keeps me company...along with my dog. My husband works 12 hours a day, 6 days a week...

I am retired and have free time to write, thanks to my husband's job.

I tend to write best first thing in the morning and late at night. During the day, I do some chores, prep dinner and walk the dog.

I stay on track by being anal about writing. I also like to paint, but writing is something I HAVE to do because I love it so much.

I get inspired reading books, other blogs, listening to music or inspiration from the previous nights dreams...Some days, just walking along with my dog, thoughts come to mind and I can't wait to get home and write them down.

Wendy Sparrow said...

I'm an obsessive writer so my process looks less like a thing I choose to do... and more like a disorder or a disease. I write and write until I bleed out ink and dream in dialogue. I lose sleep. I can't concentrate on anything. It's severely unhealthy. On the other hand, when the manuscript is complete in it's first rough draft form, I get a rush of endorphins and I'm high on that for a while.

Yeah, I probably shouldn't say this stuff out loud. My "process" is so unhealthy that sometimes I just want to tell younger writers "Don't Do Writing... or Drugs." ;)

Jan Rider Newman said...

What is your process? Do you write every day?
I don't write every day. I usually take off on Sunday. Other days don't always allow me as much time to write as I'd like -- which is sometimes my fault for sloppy organization.

Do you write at the same time every day?
No, though I try to. I rise at 6 or 6:30 and spend time in prayer first, then breakfast, coffee, and computer. That's a good day. I might write for an hour or 2 or 3, and more in the afternoon. Or life and other demands might throw me off. I often have several things in the editing stage at once. If I'm working on something new, it's easier to get going and stick to the writing longer.

How much time do you devote to your craft?
Actual writing = 1 - 3 hours a day. Reading craft books or articles or blog posts = 4 - 5 hours a week. Critique group participation = 1 hour a week.

How do you stay on track?
On good days the work calls me, and I want to do it. Otherwise, if a mental kick doesn't work, I shame myself into it: "If you're not writing, you can't call yourself a writer."

I love writing, and I want to do it. I don't often let myself off the hook about doing it. You're either committed, or you're not a writer.

Anonymous said...

I am not published as of yet. I'm still polishing my manuscript every day. I don't have a full time job, that pays that is. I am a mother of two and my husband is the bread winner of the family. I spend no less than six hours a day on writing, sometimes many more. I have been known to go to my writing workshop at two in the afternoon and not come out until sunrise the following day. Bridget Faure

rebecca said...

Do you write at the same time every day?

I write when I can find space during the day, but I tend to do most of my writing at night. There is no set time, but I always make it my business to FIND time. (And that's not always easy.)

How much time do you devote to your craft?

A lot. Even when I'm not physically writing, I'm always planning, working and reworking things in my head. That would explain why I sometimes have that spacey look....

How do you stay on track?

Coffeecoffeecoffee....
Seriously, I wasn't always this disciplined. I used to start pieces and work the beginnings to death but never complete anything. Then one day I realized that I could do better by getting the bones of the story down and fleshing it out later. That gave me the opportunity to self-motivate by feeling like I finished something--it was definitely the push that I needed. I also started outlining a bit and I found that it really kept me on track, not just with plot but with my own personal time frame.

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