A while back, I asked for blog topic suggestions, and my pal Bill Bodden actually gave me three that were related. So I’m answering this trio of writing-related questions as one blog post. Thanks, Bill!
How much time do you spend writing in an average day? Do you set word count goals, page goals, or do you not set goals for yourself when writing?
My goal is 1,000 new words a day. It’s a nice round number, and works out to about four manuscript pages in Courier New 12 point, the font I write in because I’m old enough to remember writing on typewriters. Time-wise, that can take anywhere from an hour to all freaking day, depending on (for lack of a better term) my “mojo.” If it’s a scene that involves a lot of dialogue, and has a clear narrative point, I can bang that right out. If it’s prose, especially background or transitional passages, it goes much more slowly. I tend to do my writing before lunch, either early before everyone else gets up (I have a wife and three kids, so I have to grab the peace and quiet when it comes) or during the day when everyone’s gone to work and/or school. After lunch, I tend to work mainly on editing, and by dinner time my brain is too fried to do anything but watch reruns of River Monsters.
How do you avoid the temptation to go back and correct things in a WIP before adding more text?
I don’t typically worry about that. My creative process tends to be linear, but if something is really pressing at me, I have no qualms about going back and working where it’s needed. I’ve written a lot at this point in my life, and I’m pretty good (though far from flawless) at knowing which ideas will keep and which ones won’t. The implied statement in your question is correct, though: I prefer to do drafts straight through, then revise once I have the whole thing in front of me.
Do you write from beginning to end, or write chapters as they come to you and link them together later?
I used to do the latter, very early in my writing life, but what I found was that the linking process never really worked for me. I ended up with clunky transitions and characters that didn’t really develop, but just stumbled from one scene to the next. I’m also not much of an outliner, unless there’s a specific reason (i.e., an editor wants one, or the plot is ridiculously complex). I prefer to work toward a general idea of the conclusion, while staying open to possibilities that may arise from the text. And to do that, I really have to pursue the story in its order, or it would be like creating puzzle pieces without knowing what the final picture’s going to look like.
Thanks again to Bill Bodden for the questions; you can find both Bill and I in the Alliteration Ink anthology Sidekicks!
And if you have any questions you’d like me to answer, leave them in the comments below.