Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On Writing (pt. 2)

As far as my writing schedule goes, I try to keep as few set-in-stone rules as possible, which are:

1) Once I start a story, I write consecutive days until it's done. Under no circumstances do I take a day off. Since these are short stories, we're only talking 4 to 10 days here.

2) I work around any obstacle preventing me from writing that day. If Lisa and I have a movie date planned that evening, I write in the morning and afternoon. If a family get-together is scheduled during the afternoon, I write when I get home later that night -- no matter how late.

3) Birthdays and major holidays are no excuse not to write. I've written on both occasions -- my latest birthday and last Christmas being the most recent example.

Other than this, I'm surprisingly fluid in my guidelines. As someone who works full-time, it's not a big revelation to say that the most difficult part is making the time to write. My typical daily schedule when I'm *not* in the middle of a story is this:

6:30 a.m -- Wake up.
8:30-4:30 -- At the office, doing the daily grind.
5:30 -- Come home from work.
5:45-7:00 -- Work out (4-mile jog and/or weight training)
7:00-8:00 -- Prepare and serve dinner.
8:00-9:00 -- Eat dinner and spend time with Lisa.
9:00-11:00 -- Either continue spending time with Lisa (watching tv), or surf the Internet.
11:00-12:00 -- Fall asleep reading.

When I *am* in the middle of writing, the only thing that changes from the above schedule is that the prime 2-hour block between 9 and 11 are used solely for writing. This is when I go into hermit mode and no one hears a peep out of me until I emerge from my den 2 (sometimes 3) hours later looking bleary-eyed and confused.

The rather late dinner time is due to the fact that I have to work out immediately after coming home from work. This is the only time in the day I have for this, otherwise I would have to quit working out. And that's never happening. The few times I've skipped a workout are when I'm in the middle of writing a particular thorny scene and *NEED* to get on it right away when I get home. So yes, my workouts are very important . . . but not more important than my writing.

I very rarely, if ever, get any video game time in during the week. Only the weekend, where it competes with my writing time. Usually, however, I put the games on hold until I finish a story and am in the process of mentally preparing the next one.

Weekends I tend to write/edit 4 - 5 hours a day, each day. Same on my days off. These sessions usually happen late at night; the later the better. Don't know why, but my creativity is severely limited in the morning and slightly less so in the afternoons. I've been known to start writing at 11 at night and continue until around 3 in the morning. Some of my best stories/scenes were written during this time frame, despite the fact that I like my sleep. But weekends are fluid, and usually I have two time periods within which to write. I try my best to write from 1 - 4 in the afternoon. If I miss out on this time, or if I use it to play video games instead, then my next bloc is the 11 - whenever bloc already mentioned.

However, I don't want to give the impression that I write ALL the time. If I did, using the aforementioned rules and schedule, I would have written several novels by this point. The thing is, I usually take anywhere from two weeks to two months off between stories. I'm certainly capable of writing more frequently than this -- I once wrote 4 stories in the month of February alone -- but I've learned that faster does not equate to better. So nowadays I try to pace myself and wait for the truly good story ideas to develop first before rushing off like a mad man to write them down.

In part 3 of this entry, I'll discuss how exactly I do just that (i.e., synopsis, outline, plotline -- or a lack thereof!)

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