My Writing Process

— January 22, 2010 (12 comments)
My amazing wife gives me two hours of dedicated writing time most days. One would think I could produce novels like some kind of ninja cyborg with all this time, but for some reason that never happens. As an experiment, I recorded my writing process to see if I could determine where the problem lies.

1:00 - Unplug laptop and bring it upstairs.
1:01 - Open laptop. Go to the bathroom while it wakes up.
1:03 - Wonder why laptop isn't waking up. Reboot.
1:06 - Open manuscript, writing stats, and all the other things I need to start writing.
1:10 - Start writing.
1:14 - Realize I have no idea where I was. Have to reread what I did last time.
1:16 - Well that's just terrible word choice. I can't leave that there. (Edit)
1:18 - Is that what side his eye patch was on? Let me check...
1:23 - (Reading old scene) Wow, I am a TALENTED writer. What was I doing again?
1:25 - It's been half an hour and I haven't written anything. Crap!
1:26 - Okay. (Typing) Chapter 14 - To Be Titled [enter][enter] [left-justify] Hagai... Hagai what?
1:40 - Realize my mind wandered from Hagai to Sam to the climax to my query letter to what I will say when an agent calls me to what I'll post on my blog when I get an agent...
1:48 - Realize I haven't been thinking about writing for at least 15 minutes now, and the last thing I wrote was Hagai.
1:49 - Okay. Hagai peered over the ship's railing at the ocean hundreds of meters below.
1:50 - Hundreds? How high should they be. I need to look this up...
1:55 - Wow. I didn't know H.G. Wells wrote an airship novel..
2:05 - What time is it? Dang it! Okay. I'm not allowed to open my browser again.
2:06 - "Do I have to?" Hagai asked. "Can't make port with firehooks in the hull," Ren said. "Causes all manner of... of... problems? Anxiety? There's gotta be a better word than that.
2:08 - Boy, Open Office's thesaurus sucks. My real one's downstairs. Fine, I'll open my browser again just to check real quick. No Wikipedia.
2:10 - Anxiety, distress, foreboding... None of these feel right. Is this something I could make up a slang word for? What's a good metaphor for unrest?
2:15 - Hm, an e-mail...
2:25 - Crap!
2:50 - Wrote 400 words. That's good for today, yeah? Maybe I can see if any blogs have updated. You know, like a reward...
3:15 - Me: "Sorry I stayed up there late, honey." Cindy: "Oh, that's okay. How was your writing time?" Me: "Good. It was good. I think I'm getting faster."

(Note to Cindy: some events have been exaggerated for comedic effect. Please, please, please don't take away my writing time. I'm totally good for it.)

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  1. LOL!

    Hey, 400 words is 400 words. I write at the office, so my workflow is determined by how busy I am there.

    Some days I get no words down at all.

  2. That was very funny. You're writing more than I am anyway!

  3. Absolutely fantastic! I sympathize with you on so many levels! :D

  4. We've all been (or are?) there :)
    Don't give up.

  5. LOL! My god, you have just described every day for me! Especially this:
    "1:14 - Realize I have no idea where I was. Have to reread what I did last time.
    1:16 - Well that's just terrible word choice. I can't leave that there. (Edit)"

    Yah. That's me to a T, and the main reason I am STILL editing.

    word ver: "poreart" art based on close up photography of pores? ewww.

  6. Firstly, i make no claim to be any kind of expert.

    However it sounds like you're trying to keep too much in your head, thus getting distracted.

    Perhaps what you should do for the first and last 5 minutes of your 2 hours is a kind of disiplined planning.
    Last 5 you determine and then write a paragraph on exactly what you are going to do next session.
    First five you review last sessions paragraph, determine how you're going to act on it, and then do exactly that, not letting yourself divert to anything else.
    If you think of a distraction partway through, jot it down for next session, that way it gets done, but doesn't get in the way.

    Worst thing for a writer, particularly one with limited write time, is distraction, procrastination and getting generally mentally derailed.

    Hope this helps.

  7. Thanks, Rhys. That's really good advice!

  8. wow, my process too. clearly, as i'm supposed to be writing now. i went to look something up (types of sails, actually-- it is relevant!), then decided to just quickly check Le R's blog... and maybe the comments... and linked to your blog... and yeah, ten minutes later, here i am. nothing written. ouch.

  9. Glad I could help :D

    It prompted me to put a bigger post about that very subject on my own blog, which hopefully will help others one day when I have a readership.