I received an email yesterday in response to the Reddit AMA, and I asked the author if I could respond in public and use his email as an informal Q&A. He said to go for it; so here it is.
I have a suggestion for a blog entry for you if you’re willing. How about a rundown on your writing process? It may not resonate with all of your fans, but if there’s more of them like me (who are trying their own hand at storytelling) then I think it would be a great blog post.
I tried again to post on your forum to start a thread on this subject, but my iPad doesn’t seem to let me. A blog post might be better anyway since you seem to get much more traffic in that format.
Yeah, my forums are screwy. Why don’t you send me your iPad and I’ll spend a few months trying to diagnose the problem?
Specifically, a “typical” day for you as a writer (if there is one) would be pretty cool. What I am interested in personally though is how you go about writing your stories. Are you outline-heavy at the beginning? How often do you edit yourself as you are writing? (not necessarily grammar and sentence structure…but instead plot and character development, scene transitions, etc.)
My typical day starts at 6:30 with a bowl of cereal. I check my email and read any new Amazon reviews. I peek at Goodreads to see if anything there requires my attention. By the time I’m done with my cereal, I’m ready to start writing.
My manscripts stay open all the time, and I never turn my Macbook Air off until it seizes and I have to do a hard-reset. Swiping three fingers over to the left brings up one of my works. I currently have four that I’m working on.
I try to end each writing session in the middle of a piece of dialog or during some bit of action. It makes picking up the next day far easier. Stopping at the conclusion of a chapter is poison. Never check your email or do anything at the end of a chapter. It’s like parking a rig on an upslope. In fact, writing a manuscript is easier if you pretend you have no reverse gear at all. It makes you seriously consider where you leave the thing. Always keep a quick and easy escape for when you buckle back in.
I aim for 2,000 words a day when I’m writing. While revising, I don’t keep count. I need far less self-motivation when revising. I can do it all day. I start with a general idea of my story and characters (daydreamed and memorized). Then I’ll make a list of scenes, which become my chapters. I type these out and arrange them, and then I start at the beginning and just write as loosely as I can.
I very rarely revise while I write. I only do this when I feel stuck or bored with the story. I’ll go back and read/revise from the beginning to “get back into the book again.” This often comforts me by seeing that some part of the work is decent, and I up my game moving forward. I stagger back and forth like this sometimes when I get near the end of a work. Satisfying conclusions are always the hardest for me (this might be true for most writers. I suspect it is).
If you’re like me, ideas for stories almost pop out of nowhere… That isn’t the problem… the problem I have is the confidence to go on with that idea. Second guessing and self-doubt plague me during the whole process. Do you have the same type of issues? And if so, what helps you to push on?
Self-doubt drips from my every pore. It’s gotten worse as I’ve gained readership. I’m convinced that there’s a billion better reads out there and so why are people wasting time with my drivel? And yeah, the ideas are numerous; the time is short. Picking one story and sticking with it is difficult, especially since the act of creation is more exciting than the slog of hammering out the details.
The good part of this is that you’ll only write the “stickiest” of stories, the ones that you can’t shake loose. And these are the ones the readers are dying for.
I read your Reddit posts. They’re really really interesting and informative. I figured though that the subject matter was more about self-publishing as an author instead of just you as an author… That’s one reason why I didn’t ask you this stuff there.
Thanks for slogging through those posts! I had a great time participating in the AMA. Glad someone suggested it.
So think about it. I’m excited to hear about how you do your thing… I think others would enjoy it as well. I know I’ve told you this before, but you are the one who inspired me to really get serious about my writing… I’ve spent 20 years just piddling around with it. I should have started sooner.
That’s an incredibly humbling compliment. And I share your pain. I wish I’d begun writing sooner. Not that I think I could have created stories with as much depth at a younger age, but I would have a lot more practice and source material to build upon. Alas, I comfort myself by taking pride in having taken this craft seriously at all. I could have looked back in another twenty years wondering why I squandered that time and didn’t write more.
Sent from my iPad
Seriously. Send that thing to me for a few months. I want to do some troubleshooting with it.