I find I have a bit more to say today, Gentle Reader, so bear with me.
I read this amazing article last night about revising novels and The Great British Baking Show (which is one of this author’s absolutely favorite pieces of television, ever). And the author got me thinking about what it’s like to write a novel. It is such an easy things to do: sit down and write. And it is the hardest thing to do: sit down and write.
I have been both a binge writer and a daily writer. Both are useful, and both have their problems. Ultimately, if you want to write, it’s BICHOK (Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard). The problem with writing is that you have to sit down and do it (or I suppose stand up if you have one of those newfangled standing desks). I have sat and written for entire days at a time, both academic and creative, and I have made writing part of my daily routine, something I do when I get up, after breakfast and coffee.
Currently, I’m a daily writer. I write every morning, for around 15-30 minutes (most often 15). I average about 3 pages a day, and I don’t write from outlines. I’ve never written from outlines. I let the story unfold as it’s written, which means I am a messy writer, and a massive reviser. I laid out my plans for MARVEL in my last blog post about using Spring Break for binge revising, but I didn’t say that I want to formalize my schedule just a wee bit more.
I don’t use a timer. I just write until I am ready to stop writing. Sometimes, it’s when a particularly knotty problem presents itself (how will our intrepid heroes get out of this mess? Tune in tomorrow!) or when I feel like I’m just laying words on a page without any real push toward a resolution. Raymond Chandler, I believe, once said, when in doubt in writing, have someone walk in with a gun. And that’s my attitude toward writing too. When you’re at a loss, throw the whole gang into a pickle. The Spider-Man 2 or Odysseus philosophy; it can only get worse, and worse, and worse, before it gets better.
I write genre. I don’t write literary fiction. But I am a literary critic so I know the conventions. My first novel, MARCH MADNESS, is a cozy mystery with a twist. My second novel, BECOMING, is a female-led epic Victorian urban fantasy (say that ten times fast!). MARVEL AMONG THE DEMONS is a supernatural YA. I’m not happy in one genre. I’m happy in all the genres.
I think I’m going to start working a bit harder, pushing myself a bit more, in the morning with my daily writing. Giving myself a true time limit or page limit (15 minutes or 5 pages every day, no matter what). I’ve done the looser writing to get myself back into the rhythm of it, but now, I think I’m ready to move forward once more.
Writing every day is both the easiest and the hardest writing I’ve ever done. But it’s worth it.