Preparing to write: Recently a writer new to the industry emailed me a note asking this very question. How does a professional writer center him or herself and just start writing? Do the words suddenly flow as if you turned on a water spigot? Hardly. At least not for me. But neither is it a struggle. With all the other things demanding my time (Writers Resource Group, Inc., Stanford Writers School, animal training and my commitments to nonprofits) I treasure the time I’m able to sit down and just write. That’s the discipline I invoked on myself when I wrote God’s Banker and right now as I wrap up A Pirate’s Time Served, a young adult novel about treasure hunting in the Caribbean.
When I do write, it is scheduled: Every day starting and finishing at exactly the same time. Each day I have the targeted number of words I need to produce. Most often it’s 1500-2000 words. I have an outline of what today’s production will cover that I created the day before prior to reluctantly stopping work. This is the most valuable part. With this outline, I’m able to link production in a constant stream from day to day to day. I learned this from Seth Harwood at Stanford. It enables me to begin today’s production work fresh, but not cold. Running starts are always best.
Next thing, before I actually type the first word is to read my list of reminders. For me, there are currently 4, taken from Molly Breen also at Stanford. They remind me of errors I’ve made and don’t want to repeat and of dialog techniques I want to use. Finally, I just begin writing. With all this prep, now it begins to flow. Maybe I’ll strike the first paragraph later, but not often. I’ve been doing this for a while. I force myself to take a break for a few minutes every hour. I get up and walk the dogs, stretch, refill my water glass (with a shot of Gatorade). Anything to keep the blood and ideas flowing. Then I get right back to it.
I love being a writer. If I could do anything in the world it would be this. Thanks for asking. See more of the writing life of a working author at these videos: Writer on the Biz of Writing and Eavesdropping with My Characters
Enjoy the day,