This morning I woke up with a backache. I decided I would postpone the start of my day until after I felt better. So, what do you do with a little extra time on your hands? You hang out on Twitter!
What luck! #HowIWrite was trending! I enjoyed very much reading suggestions from writers all over the world on the specifics of their process.
You know, the hows of our writing is similar. We all sit with keyboards (a few with notebooks), we all daydream, we all fiddle with music and other ambient issues, we all drink ungodly amounts of coffee or tea and we all work at this.
Naturally, I had to write a few jokes about it.
With the probably mistaken assumption that my readers will savor every details of character backstory.
Surprisingly fast when I listen to banjo music.
With unflickering white hope I will be loved by the world except for that reviewer who 1 stars me because of a misspelled word.
But I DO have a method.
It used to be that I worked in 10 minute increments around the needs of my small children. Now my kids are older and more independent. My increments are bigger, and I am way more productive, but I still have a method.
I’ve created this image that I run around my house like a headless chicken turning off timers and chasing toddlers. But it’s really not that crazy.
I make a to-do list with 8 columns: Newsletter/Blog, Branding, Homeschool, Reading, Projects, Release, Marketing, Podcast.
Under each column is a list of things that need to be done. Sometimes I mark the most important items. Then I work on each column for 15-20 minutes. When the timer dings, I get up and do something domestic like laundry, or check the kids or tidy the kitchen. Then I come back to the next column for another 20 minutes.
Obsessively since we all know that only five star reviews can fill the blackest holes of our hearts.
With an infinite number of fellow chimpanzees. On my manual typewriter.
By deliberately, exhaustively, completely, purposefully and maniacally removing all adverbs.
But not everything on the list is writing.
Sigh. It’s not. It’s also blogging, emailing, tweeting, marketing, proofing, editing, reading, revising and staring out the window. It’s also running a household, homeschooling and glancing ambivalently at the welfare of the children.
All of my life is broken down into very small steps and I tackle as many as I can in a day.
When I do write, I do a word vomit or a brain spew of every conceivable idea. I don’t self-edit because I don’t have time for it. I want something on the screen so I can work with it. Daydreaming out the window is all well and good but you can’t rewrite something that isn’t written to begin with. I have to have the raw materials to work with.
With an intimate knowledge of which Hollywood actors will play every role.
With those magical people the pros call “characters” and that thingy, a “setting” and, what is it? Oh! Plot!
In iambic pentameter just to come off as pretentious.
I also don’t fret too much about deadlines.
But not every writer has this luxury. My deadlines are self-imposed and it’s rare that someone gives me a firm date. But I don’t tell my brain and my fingers that. I want to work fast and furiously in every increment of time. I find that by challenging myself this way I am way productive.
By allowing my children to run naked and unfed through squalor. Meh.
With a holey, cat hair covered sweater, in a fog of cigarette smoke, an empty gin bottle next to me.
With intense, white-hot jealousy of George R. R. Martin. I’ll knock you off YOUR Game of Thrones, bub. Winter IS Coming Indeed!
In my fiction, I pants my ideas to death.
I make tons of notes and create little beads of characters or anecdotes or conflicts. Then I rearrange them and look for patterns or connections. The outline that will somehow develop will be the chain that links every bead together. At that point, I’m not pantsing any more. I’m drafting. And there’s plenty of room for improvisation.
With a gun to my muse’s head. Figuratively, people! Figuratively!
Type ten words. Pick cuticles. Type five words. Change music. Type fifteen words. Go watch Netflix.
I also have a mental list of books I want to write.
They are all lined up in a queue. I get to them as I can, with ten minutes here and there. I want to write a book on marketing, one on self-publishing, one on local connections, one on speaking. I keep them written down on the columns and touch on them as I can. Someday they’ll move up to a higher priority.
The danger of asking other writers how they write is that we compare our method to theirs.
We think that if we copy them then we’ll succeed too. But that’s not true at all. We need to find our own way and discover how WE write. The best writers are happy writers, who are comfortable with their method and their process. Don’t be afraid to try new things, tweak others’ suggestions and fail at times.
And if you can’t come up with a how, don’t worry about it. Make it a when instead.
On my left, with pillow between my knees, a mask on eyes, in a cool-ish room, for 8 hours. Wait! That’s how I sleep! Same thing.
Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward, PTSD survivor, and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day.Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community.
She blogs at www.10minutenovelist.com
. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her new novel, Soulless Creatures,
which is about two 18 year old boys, not vampires, will be released August 2015.
Want to win a free copy of my new release Soulless Creatures?