How Do You Write?
I am interested in your words always. That’s the predominate reason I continue to blog after all these years. But I am also very interested in how you do it. What is your routine? Is it early morning? Is it late at night? Do you like coffee when you write or tea or beer? Do you have a word count that you must hit each day? What is your editing process like? Do you have a pre-writing process? Do you outline?
One of the things I like so much about writing is that there is no single method for getting where I want to go. I still have a job that go to every day, you know, the one that actually pays the bills while I get this writing off the ground. In that job, there is a discipline required, certain way of doing things, and there are repercussions for not completing tasks in that manner. With writing, it is not so. The only thing that matters is success. Are my stories understood and does my audience like what I am writing. Really the two criteria for a story, especially so for fiction.
I don’t have a particular set order for when I write, how much I write. I know some famous writers have set for themselves a target for how many words a day they will write. Someday when (notice I didn’t say “if”) I am a full time writer with writing being my only job, I might have such a standard. But now I work close to fifty hours a week. I travel for my company more than I like to so the whole word count thing doesn’t work all that well. My goal is to write everyday. If it’s ten words, if it’s ten thousand words, I just want to put my fingers on the keyboard and let my mind run wild.
My favorite time to write is when I am done with whatever chores I feel are necessary to keep my house of cards from blowing down. This is around five in the evening on most work days and earlier on the weekends. It is not a requirement for writing, but I like staring whatever I am going to be working on when I have just opened a beer. I can’t write while drunk, but a couple of beers will always seem to put the world I have been fighting behind me and bring out the creative juices. Being creative is what it is all about. I would do almost anything to be more creative. It is a drug all its own. Those of you who know what I am talking about, know what I am talking about.
I have a favorite place to write. It is in front of my fireplace with a fire going, regardless of how hot or cold it is. My wife thinks I am crazy in July with the a fire going while the air conditioner is cooling everything down but that is what works for me, so that is what I do. It will only be crazy if I am not someday making a living writer. When (not “if”) I am as famous as other famous authors, writing in front of a fire in July will become the gold standard for where to write.
The last thing I will tackle in this post are my editing and pre-writing styles. I don’t have any. I will piddle and paddle along, tinkering at the edges, reading everything I can to try and have an idea for a story, but it has to be just that. An idea! A thunderbolt. Inspiration. I have never done well when I sat down and tried to manufacture a story. It has to be something that comes to me. When it does, I don’t need an outline. The outline is in my head, clear as a sunny day, ready for me to write. I know the beginning, the middle, and the ending. I don’t have to do anything but write it (Note my Thunderbolts From God post).
Once it is written, the editing style I have adopted is to just write it again. I print off what I have written, stick it in front of my face and write it again. I don’t have set number of times to write it. I write it until it is a story that I am comfortable with. It is usually three times but sometimes more sometimes less.
Again, the thing I like about writing is that there are no rules for how to do it. It only matters that it is good. A Hall of Fame football coach once revealed that he only had two rules. Be on time and play like hell. That kind of sums up what I would tell any aspiring writer.
Now that I have shared my writing habits, I would love to hear yours.