Thursday, September 2, 2010

It Works for Me

Most successful writers write every day. Every single day. They floss their teeth. They file their receipts. And they write.

I'm not that writer--at least not in the drafting phase. Maybe I will be when I grow up some day.

But I haven't yet mastered the balance between the voices in my head and the real-world demands. If the kids interrupt me, I snap at them. When the characters interrupt me, I find I've been standing at the sink for 15 minutes scrubbing out the same wine glass or that I've driven three exits further than I wanted to.

I have to pick which world I'll inhabit and stay there.

So, a few times a year, I draft. NaNoWriMo-style, I just push the words out. Some call it "pantsing," but for me, it's highly inefficient plotting. This first draft isn't a first draft, it's a "zero" draft or a "crapdraft." And it's a rush.

I do it for the rush. There's no rush in revision (except for the occasional shout of "Yeah! That's it!")

In the next two days I'll warn the family. I'll show the husband the fridge magnet with the pizza parlor's number again. I'll tell the kids, "If Mommy is talking to the laptop, don't enter the room." And then I'll ride the ride.

Maybe next year my method will change. But for now, this works for me.

What works for you? As a reader, do you read a little every day, or does life shut down while you stay up all night with your novel?


  1. I think the only reason I can write nearly every day (I take 2 days off per week) is because I wait until late at night, when the dogs are taken care of, the kitchen is clean and hubby heads to bed with his book. Then it's quiet, and aside from the lure of Twitter, I can immerse myself into my fictional worlds and not come out until I'm ready (or until my eyes won't stay open any longer). But it's the same thing I do during NaNo, I just allow myself a few less words per day outside of November. ;-)

    When I'm reading, I read both a little every day, and occasionally stay up all night with my novel. Much to the detriment of my day job.

  2. I now believe in the "writing (nearly) every day" tactic in the sense of "put some words on paper/screen" not so much "make progress on the WIP." At this stage in my game, I also have kids at home and some days it seems like my conversation is no more complicated than "No fighting, no biting." So it's good exercise to verbalise, to connect some thoughts, to note details, as well as work on the bigger picture of putting together a whole story.

  3. I'm a mixer. I like to pants it when the ideas for that first draft are flowing, just get the outline out, write those key scenes, let the story tell me where it wants to go. Then, usualy, I have to take a step back, attend to my life while the idea brews before I sit down and really work out the kinks. At this point I try to write everyday (life allowing). I write my synopsis, I work out details in my outline, I write scene by scene without skipping to my favorite parts of the book. Sure there are times when the muse takes over, but this is usually when things are stalling and I've had to walk away for a few days anyway. Regardless, my current method is one that has changed from when I first started and will doubtlessly change again. It works for me though and that's all that matters!

    And Keri, I too, snap at the kids and drive past my exit! LOL :-D

  4. Hi Keri, nice to see you here! :-)

    I write every day. Sometimes it's genius; other times it's utter crap. But I keep going.

  5. Hi Keri! I try to write M-F while the kids are at school. As long as my husband isn't working at home, the phone isn't ringing, and I don't have lots of errands, it works ok. I'm not a night owl, but if I were, I'm sure I'd get a lot more accomplished!

  6. Oh, I have to write every day. Like you, I write with the full acceptance that the first draft is far from the final. I write the "series of events" first, then go back and write the feelings and reactions...ya, know, add the personality. Of course, I don't have the Dear Doctor or the Charming Triad to offer distractions.

  7. So many well-disciplined writers in my universe! Seriously, I'm impressed with (and mildly jealous of) you daily writers. Even as I type this, my youngest is using empty plastic measuring flasks to make rock star bombs on the table next to me. Sigh. I wish I were a night owl, Jamie.
    Oh, those "genius" moments, Liz. I've heard about those. Haven't had one in ages though!

  8. I write much the same way you do: short bursts of frantic activity. But I do usually blog or write something every day. It isn't always easy, but it does keep me on track.

  9. Keri I completely understand your pain. I have to fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants every word I write. I then take my time to flesh out the story once I get that first draft on paper. I have decided that I can't combine both worlds.

  10. No matter how you do it, it's never easy, is it?

  11. I don't write every day, but I try to. I also tend to write skeletal first drafts in manic bursts, then tinker for a long time. I'm getting better at the process. I've kind of adapted my pantser process to something like a hybrid with phase drafting. My first drafts tend to read like scripts, with the occasional prose laden section (usually backstory I'm brain dumping and which gets cut and threaded through later).

    The best thing that has worked for me is to tell myself to put down 100 words before bed. I usually end up doing more. But, it helps keep me connected to the story.

    Ahh, children. I was daydreaming with my characters and "awoke" to find 17 month old sitting in middle of dining room table adding to the WIP. Sigh.

  12. Hi Keri:

    Just stopping by to say hello to a fellow Carina Press author and to respond to your question about writing every day. If I don't, I get out of sorts and then I get cranky:) If I write every day, the words come easier... I love immersing myself in my book, creating the conflict and fighting for that resolution. Writing puts color in my life and as I tell my friends, being inside that story is the very best place to be!

  13. Hi Keri!
    To throw in my $0.02 worth, I know I *should* write every day, but I don't. (Erm, especially now that Miss Junior Peanut has arrived.) I'm also a plotter extraordinaire -- I can't "pants" it because not knowing how things are going to go makes me freeze up and panic.

    I don't read much right now -- my "free" time (when baby is sleeping) is usually spent SLEEPING -- but I am generally a "stay up WAY past bedtime" reader, especially if I've gotten really sucked in.

  14. I can't write or even edit every day. I find that now and then I just need a break. In fact, I've taken the entire last month off. Down time isn't evil. We all need it, regardless what we do.