The Process

I thought this piece was going to be dumb in the same way that such pieces are generally dumb, a collection of quotes on how things work from established authors that may or may not be useful to any given person because, you know, different strokes.  But it was actually pretty on point.  Writers write.  The only thing it takes to be a writer is the ability to sit down and write, which is an exercise of will and desire, not skill.  As John Grisham talked about his process in the interview the piece references, I will talk about mine here.

Unlike Grisham, I don’t write for a living, I have a Real Job that I am at from roughly 10:30 to 6:30 every day so waking up and writing for 2-3 hours for me would involve getting up at about 6 AM.  Pass.  I function best as a writer with few distractions so it’s most useful to write late at night here on the west coast when the shittier but ultimately more important coast has gone to bed.

I frequently clear my head by playing mindless games like Tetris or Bejewelled or literally every first person shooter that has ever existed.  Sometimes I’ll scroll through image sites like 9gag or The Meta Picture.  It helps to not be preoccupied with real world things so I can focus on the story.  I method write.  When I’m working on a piece, I am there, watching things unfold.  The characters are all a part of me and I feel what they feel.  It’s not uncommon for me to type faster during heated scenes and slower during more deliberate ones.

I don’t shoot for a set length or have any real goals as to daily progress.  I generally end up between 300 and 2,000 words on most days, but several hour 10,000 word days are not terribly rare.  I try not to stop in the middle of scenes, but sometimes I do, even in the middle of sentences.  I’m to the point where not writing for a day is not going to send me into a spiral of procrastination or laziness and I can easily pick up again after a day off.

I’ve also lately been supplementing my work with visual aids, maps, drawings, etc. and keeping a pretty detailed One Note document (some 40 tabs) so more and more I’ve been spending nights fleshing out the story/world in one way or another, but not actually writing content.

Editing is a different animal entirely.  I loathe editing so I try to keep to more of a schedule to ensure I do it, but at the same time doing too much tends to put me on automatic and causes me to miss things, so I shoot for between 10 and 20 pages a day.  I do at least 3-4 edits, one of which is reading the story out loud and look for different things.  The first pass is usually the easy stuff, word choice errors, typos the spell checker didn’t catch, inconsistencies.  The second pass is adding or removing from various parts as necessary, figuring out which sentences or even paragraphs are unnecessary and what parts need more description.  Then I read out loud, which typically catches things like awkward sentences and overused words.  I’ll often give it a final read through to judge things like pacing and character development.

So that’s how it’s done.  Go forth.

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About Alex

I am awesome.

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