Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How I Write

One gentle reader of this blog asked to hear about my writing process, so here goes.

As much as I wish I were disciplined enough to write every day, I am not and so I don't. But on Fridays, my non-work day, I write. I don't schedule doctor or massage appointments, I don't clean or shop, I don't leave the house. I just write. I can also write on cross-continental flights, occasionally in the passenger seat of a long car trip, and sometimes on weekends.

When I'm at home, I sit in my lovely upstairs office and write at a desktop computer (sometimes with my helper, Birdie). When I'm traveling, I usually write on my trusty lightweight netbook, the one with the 9-hour battery life. I have, though, been able to write quite well in other locations with a good pen and a nice white pad of lined paper.

On Fridays I try to write steadily from early morning until I run out of steam, which is usually early afternoon, taking breaks only to stretch, grab a snack, or throw a load of laundry on the line. When I'm writing a first draft, I read over the last scene I wrote and then I try to write at least 1000 new words. Some days I get even more on the page.

What about when I don't know what's happening in the story? I'm not one for plotting or outlining, particularly. At times I sit down and have NO IDEA what's next in the book. But the old adage about "butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard" is completely true. So I start typing. Sometimes I type "I don't know what to write today. I don't know what's next. I want to bring Irene's son Joey into the action..." and then I have an idea about what happened to a character and off I go. It works every time. Really? Really.

But what about distractions? The Internet is a biggie. It's too tempting to just check that email, or do a little research about this or that. So I simply don't open a browser on the desktop system. Instead I leave the netbook downstairs and use that for email. If I need to check a fact in the book, I type [CHECK THIS] so I can find it later, after the creative surge is over, and follow up then. It seems very important not to let myself interrupt the muse when she's flowing.

Other distractions include a nice sunny day and the view from my office windows. Or bringing pen and paper to the beach and finding myself listening to the waves and fellow beachgoers' conversations instead.

What about you? Where do you write, and how do you keep at it?


  1. That's a keeper. THANK YOU!!

  2. Beautiful pictures and a great way to note fact check point!Sherry

  3. But your writing space is so neat. I have papers and books strewn everywhere.

    The Internet is my biggest distraction. Especially on the days when I blog. Can't resist checking to see what comments have been left. And on-line jigsaw puzzles. I'm quite addicted to on-line jigsaw puzzles.

  4. Love it, Edith. The photos are beautiful. Nice to see that your kitty helps out. I find it oddly comforting that you don't get to write every single day. I try for the mornings before work, but alas, sometimes the commute beckons ... or I'm running late ... Lovely post.

  5. So nice of you all to stop by! Glad you enjoyed the post.

    LD - the space varies in neatness. But I do find it easier to write when it is neat. Feels like it clears my brain to have the desk relatively clear.

  6. I admire your discipline..