Before I begin my writing sessions for today, I thought I’d warm-up my fingers and de-fog my 5:30 am mind with a blog-entry/note on my routine that others may find interesting or at least comparative. What follows is a somewhat typical day. I was behind where I wanted to be goal wise in the number of words written. I wanted 3k a day but was down by about 5.5k altogether. This is doable in a day for most, especially some of you amazing word factories who can really crank out the words. For me, it was a challenge because of the way I write. I am a more deliberate writer that most. I have a hard time simply writing as much as possible for volume’s sake. I can’t work that way as it’s too far beyond my comfort level for many reasons.
First, I feel that if I pay as much attention as I can to grammar, punctuation and usage while I compose, the job of revision and editing is then made that much easier. Don’t get me wrong, I am charging through, but old habits, especially the good ones, die hard and this is one I don’t want to lose.
Second, I have habit of developing background materials, my blessing or my bane either one. A thorough and complete background on a character, place, organization, culture or item makes it that much easier for me to compose. I feel I write my stories more quickly and confidently with a well developed background to support it. Now, what is ironic about this is that I’m probably writing just as many words when I pause to develop background material as I would simply powering on and later making all kinds of logic corrections and additions later on. It is also true that I am making changes as I compose that sometimes render my background material moot, but like I said, it’s all about comfort level.
Third, I do re-read and revise. I don’t do anything major, but repeated words or logic problems are like tiny burs under the saddle of my writing horse. They’re no real big deal, but they worry me nonetheless. I’ll move a sentence, or if it’s a major problem and rather prickly, I’ll simply rewrite the whole passage. I won’t erase so much as strike-out text to keep the numbers accurate. I know I’m going to have a major re-write session when I’m done with the first draft in which I start at the beginning and revise the whole shebang to catch such problems, but, like I insinuated before: a ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in terms of time and makes my writing sessions more enjoyable.
What follows is a timeline of my day yesterday. It isn’t necessarily typical as it’s a summer writing day while on vacation and I was desperate to get my numbers back, but it is what I consider for me to be a Zen-like “good writing day.” Maybe some of you will see yourselves in it, others will realize there is no “perfect” way and still others will have their own writing routines affirmed—“I like my way better! This guy is crazy!”
05:55 – Rise a little late; start coffee; feed dogs and cats; clean cat-shit 😦 ; check emails; check forums; shop Pipers’ Dojo and Acheltibuie Bagpipe specialists; grab coffee; let dogs out.
06:49 – Writing Session One: 531 words
07:31 – Coffee warm up; stretch (rather drowsy); check out Rosie O’Grady’s Highlanders site as promised
07:52 – Writing Session Two: 638 words + research on birth-defects and genetics
09:05 – Wife is up :-); coffee break with her; discuss birth-defects (she is a nurse-practitioner); visit Jake Powning, sword-smith’s site for research; text exchange with my brother
09:53 – Writing Session Three: 516 words
11:05 – Early lunch; phone conversation with Lexie
11:46 – Writing Session Four: 408 words; I’m fighting the urge to take a nap
12:37 – Give up for a bit and take a reading break; make a trip to store for groceries; make smoothies; clean-up kitchen
14:09 – Writing Session Five: 1,954 words; high-five myself
17:05 – Trip to store with my wife; prep dinner; make appetizers
17:40 – Writing Session Six: 375 words
18:07 – Dinner; watch Torchwood with the wife; clean kitchen; play with the dogs; prep for bed (comfort)
20:40 – Bagpipe Practice; check emails
21:42 – Writing Session Seven: 801 words
22:40 – Crash
By the end of the day, I was seriously tiered, for as most of you know, writing is hard work, especially when you try to add “living life” to the mix. For those of you doing the math, you probably noted I’m still a bit down on my goals by 777 words. Today’s goal therefore is 3777, and I’m off to see if I can have another good writing day.
Originally posted in the now deleted “Marchers of Khaldenthea” blog and The Salamander’s Quill 1.0