In today’s Journal
* Quotes of the Day
* Topic: One Writing Process
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
Quotes of the Day
“I always tell people to just let a story or a book be what it wants to be. Sometimes I even forget my own lessons.” Dean Wesley Smith
“Most of the ‘wisdom’ from members feels like advice we’ve all heard over the years presented as inviolable rules. Those of you who have hung around TKZ for a while know my opinion on the rules of writing: There aren’t any. Fiction writers need only to entertain their audience. If they can do that while including a prologue that’s all about waking up from a dream in the middle of a thunderstorm and wondering who they are, then Godspeed.” John Gilstrap
“Writing is a craft, and crafts need to be practiced.” John Gilstrap
Topic: One Writing Process
Notice this topic is titled “One Writing Process,” not THE writing process.
In an email, a dear prolific writer friend mentioned that occasionally he has to get to the computer to write a scene that’s resolved in his head while he slept, or upon waking. He also shared a bit of his writing process.
In my response, I shared a bit of my writing process with him, and it occurred to me that might be of interest to some of you.
First, as for having to get to the computer to write down the part of the scene or the character’s life that was revealed to me as I slept, I don’t do that. (Not that there’s anything wrong with it. Just not my process anymore.)
I used to do that. Given a story idea or a scene acted out or pretty much anything else from my subconscious, I would drag myself to the writing ‘puter and put it down so I wouldn’t either forget it or have to try to remember it after I woke up at my usual time. At a minimum, I’d wake up just long enough to scribble a note on a bedside notepad.
But now I trust my characters completely. That took some time, but I’m glad it finally came. As my friend wrote in his email, “I’ve been here before, a lot, and they [the characters] somehow make it happen.” That’s pretty much my mantra all the time: When I feel the story is bogging down, it helps me remember to trust the characters. When I find myself wondering what will happen next or how everything will work out (both concsious-mind attempts to sabotage the story) it helps me remember to trust the characters. That it’s their story, not mine. That I’m only their stenographer.
It helps a lot that I know their story’s going on even when I don’t look in on it, so I trust that something will be happening when I do. So if I “see” something happening when I’m away from the writing ‘puter, I generally just let it go. It’ll either be there again when I sit down to write or it won’t. Shrug. (I know. Weird.)
I consider myself lucky in that way. But honestly, I feel it has less to do with luck and more to do with practice, as John Gilstrap alludes to in one of the Quotes of the Day. If you want to make anything a habit, you have to practice it for awhile first.
So my process…
These days I get up at 2 or 3 or 4. If I feel good and awake, I get up. If I don’t, I go back to sleep for another hour or two. When I get up, I brew my one allowed mug of coffee and go to the Hovel. I read/respond to emails, check the blogs I usually read, and then prep and publish the Journal. That generally takes between 1 and 2 hours.
Then usually I take a break of a half-hour or so.
After that I move over to the writing ‘puter. I usually read the previous chapter or two, then put my fingers on the keys and just write whatever the characters give me in the moment. So my writing isn’t so much a diary of what happened as a record of what’s happening at the moment.
I make any adjustments while cycling, and other than correcting typos, the characters make those adjustments. (My characters don’t do typos. They don’t recognize or care about misspelled words. They’re just trying to tell their story.)
For me, each major scene is a chapter, and for me those usually come in at around 1200-1300 words. Truth be told, when I’ve finished a chapter, I DO highlight the whole thing to find the word count of the chapter, and I add that to my reverse outline between the chapter number and the chapter notes. (Of course that number always changes a bit after I cycle back through the chapter.)
Of course, minor or transitional scenes are necessary too. Most often I can move those a few lines up or down to adjust the length of a chapter if necessary. (This is something I didn’t realize I was doing until I wrote this post.)
That’s it for me. But again, every writer is different. Whatever works for you is fine. By “works for you” I mean “enables you to put words on the page and finish a story.” Plus, in my opinion, a writing process should be a living entity. It should evolve over the years. If it doesn’t, maybe we need more practice.
Talk with you again soon.
See “It All Counts” at https://killzoneblog.com/2021/07/it-all-counts.html.
See “Massive Move Day” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/massive-move-day/. Scroll down to “Writing Update.”
See “Maybe It’s Time to Admit People Just Like Books?” at https://countercraft.substack.com/p/maybe-its-time-to-admit-people-just.
See “With Virgin Galactic’s launch of Richard Branson in the books, all eyes are on Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos” at https://www.space.com/blue-origin-jeff-bezos-launch-follows-virgin-galactic-richard-branson-flight. I almost didn’t list this one. Anyone else tired of watching multi-billionaires play astronaut?
The Journal…………………………………… 970 words
Writing of WCGN3: The New Mexico Territory (novel)
Day 1…… 1191 words. Total words to date…… 1191
Day 2…… 1206 words. Total words to date…… 2397
Day 3…… 3876 words. Total words to date…… 6273
Day 4…… 2559 words. Total words to date…… 8832
Day 5…… 1561 words. Total words to date…… 10393
Day 6…… 3007 words. Total words to date…… 13400
Day 7…… 2488 words. Total words to date…… 15888
Day 8…… 4307 words. Total words to date…… 20195
Total fiction words for July……… 38937
Total fiction words for the year………… 567616
Total nonfiction words for July… 9460
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 135250
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 702866
Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 11
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 3
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 64
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.