If I said I had a real writing routine I’d be exaggerating. I try to keep ‘work hours,’ but I rebel against too much discipline. So every day is a new and different writing experience.
I usually write on and off all day. My four-year-old grandson and my daughter live with my husband and me, so I have a lot of distractions. Usually I don’t mind a few interruptions as long as they don’t come every five minutes, but when I have a deadline I need to concentrate. Friendly chatter can really throw me off.
Sometimes I stay on the porch even after my grandson comes home. Sparky, the Papillion normally drapes himself over my legs and the little guy squeezes in beside me with his Nintendo DS game and bowl of microwave popcorn which we share. I’ll write and they’ll play. I normally don’t get much accomplished. But that’s okay.
Although I’m not naturally a disciplined person, I try to bring some order to my manuscripts. I put together a notebook with notes about plot, character, basic outline, research, promotion opportunities etc. I easily forget my characters’ names, let alone their ages or eye color. Since I’m never sure I’m structuring my plot correctly, I use Michael Hague’s screenplay structure and map out what needs to be where. Adding a storyboard is also a great visual aid.
Oh, one of the most important things I do is make a timeline by putting the day of the week and story day—day 1, day 2 etc. at the beginning of each scene. This was my editor’s idea. If you do it as you write, it’s easy. You’d be amazed at how quickly I can get mixed up over pesky little details. Church scenes need to happen on Sunday morning, so I pay particular attention to the placement of these scenes. Balls and dinners can happen any day of the week, but not Sunday worship services! Once I even forgot that stores weren’t open on Sunday afternoons in 1899.
I try to write 1,000 or more words every day, but I often don’t make it. However, when a deadline looms I suddenly settle down and follow a writing plan. I stick to it. Fear of failure or missing a deadline is a very strong motivator.
It’s amazing how fast you can write when you have to. I’ll write 2,000 to 3,000 words per day when I’m finishing a manuscript. That’s a lot for me. The next day I’ll go back and reread what I wrote and edit a little. But I won’t spend much time on yesterday’s work. After I finish the story I’ll revise. I’ll probably edit several more times before the manuscript seems plausible and polished. If I have time I’ll leave the story alone for a week or two and then read and edit it again. I always find places to improve upon.
For me writing a first draft can be hard. Creativity takes a lot of energy. Sometimes the words won’t flow and sometimes the ideas run dry. But I find editing easier and therefore, I like to do it. Or maybe it’s just that I can stick with it for hours at a time and accomplish a lot relatively quickly.
So that’s how I write. We’re all different. My way might not suit you, but it works for me. Before I sold my first book I had to figure out how to keep motivated. Now I have to find ways to produce more and faster and how to be creative without the luxury of a lot of time for rewriting. Every phase of writing has its challenges. What are some of the challenges you encounter in your writing career?
Today I’m giving away a copy of Love on a Dime by yours truly, and a $15.00 gift card from Christianbook.com and a copy of The Writer’s little Helper by James V. Smith, Jr.