My Writing Process

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This is one of those blog memes doing the rounds and it was Facebook writer friend David W Robinson who encouraged me to have a go  – although I had to confess that it might be another means to put off my outstanding edit. In fact that’s been outstanding for eleven months.

First I should say that David is the opposite of me, as a visit to his ‘My Writing Process’ post at http://www.dwrob.com/2014/05/my-writing-process/ should make clear. He’s also a very prolific writer and one of the awesome Crooked Cat authors, which is in contrast to my single novel in print. Or can I count all those magazine and newspaper articles… guess not.

However, we share a passion for crime even if his see daylight beyond his eyes. Please check out his site and enjoy his writing.

Enough prevaricating, time to confess about My Writing Process.

Beyond the words ‘sporadic’ and ‘erratic’ there is a pattern. At specific times of the year, mainly during November and NaNoWriMo, I focus on getting a first draft down on paper. I usually aim to plot this novel out in detail during previous months, leaving room for the characters to introduce their own direction to the tale. Sometimes I manage to fit the draft for another novel into a year, and write that in the same way – outline and fast first draft.

However, this process has left me with five unfinished novels, including the one that I class as “the outstanding edit” – ‘Wyrm Bait’. I wrote the first draft in July 2011 and I revised it in 2012 using a cut & past approach = printed version, lots of colour pens, cards, shuffling and slicing. When I was satisfied with the third draft of ‘Wyrm Bait’, I sent it to some professional editors – Hyland & Byrne – and received some very constructive comments, suggestions and line-by-line changes. That was in June and I still need to start on the next revision using their material.

That means there’s no writing process there, although I have completed another NaNo draft and various shorts set in my Gossamer Flamesl world. Somehow re-writing and editing shorts is easier to face than a whole novel. Too many distractions standing in my way like emails, reading other blogs, social media, not to mention moving house.

Yet, if I take a step back and look at this all carefully, I can see a pattern. Rather than work in large chunks of text or time, I choose smaller slivers to focus on – small specific targets, like short stories.

And what is a novel but a series of carefully crafted scenes, with twists, turns and threads weaving them together. Maybe dividing it up that way, pacing myself, will become my re-writing process.

So I have no excuse now. Tomorrow I must start on revising ‘Wyrm Bait’ – or maybe next week.

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Productivity: A Threefold Secret

 

Snowdon & Portmeirion ~ Juanita Clarke

Snowdon & Portmeirion ~ Juanita Clarke

A month ago, in my First Wednesday of month post in the Insecure Writers Support Group – I worried about existing for Forty days cut off from the outside world. But my gloomy musings were inaccurate… as many of them are.

British Telecom may have failed to get us online but we can log on via a neighbour’s connection. So we are still alive and reasonably sane. I’ve just been online far less than normal, just long enough to get emails.

So has being without internet distractions, like social media and games, mean more writing?

Well no, but blame that on moving house. Once a few crucial writing things were out of boxes – pen and notebooks rather than computers – I began scribbling. Who wouldn’t with a view of Snowdon and Portmeirion. And I sense that there are lot more words as I gaze out the window.

Yet there was a part of me that worried about productivity.

Do you try to write at least so many words a day?

Are you daunted by how many books other authors publish each year?

I was. But I’ve realised that we all have to work at a different pace, and that pace will always depend on other factors like family commitments, job demands, genuine distractions, and in my case health.

When I was an equestrian journalist, I was able to write 12-20 articles a week. Short reports maybe, and I used a template system, but the facts had to be changed, plus the quotes. And there was the initial research which often meant two days at a weekend show. [Friday was my ‘day-off’/chill day.]

Dick Lane and his team of Lipizzaners at Brighton Driving Trials

Dick Lane and his team of Lipizzaners at Brighton Driving Trials ~ Roland Clarke

However, poor health and retirement have brought a change in lifestyle so the secret of productivity has evolved, although it had probably always been threefold… I just wasn’t aware of it.

  1. PACING: it is easier to tackle a task like a piece of writing if you pace yourself. There’s no point burning up in a frantic attempt to get thousands of words written. Over time I found that there were times when pushing myself too hard led to a day lost through exhaustion; and in my case that was how my MS first manifested. Write at a pace that suits you, rather than at a speed that someone else has set. Unless the deadlines are immovable, as with a newspaper deadline, it’s far better to make one that is realistic.

 

  1. SELECTION: try to focus on the tasks that are crucial, coupled with those that you are inspired by – not distracted by. There will never be enough time to do everything so be selective. Having no fast internet connection has led to me making hard chances on what I read online every day… and I no longer read every email in detail. Fewer = more.

 

  1. BALANCE: spending all our time working is never good. As writers our inspiration comes from many sources, so being glued to our writing all day is wasted time. Adding in other pursuits is essential. When I was confined to the house, I escaped into a game world, but from that I found the inspiration for the world of Gossamer Steel – my theme for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In Wales it will be exploring the great outdoors, although there will still be gaming – my wife and I will always be gamers. Others might mention movies, good food or chocolate. All in moderation and in balance.

 

I won’t be measuring my new life in Wales in terms of words written or books published, but in terms of the peace of mind that comes from living a richer life. That is inspiration worth sharing in carefully crafted creations from the soul.

What do you feel creates words of worth, productivity or peace of mind?

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