Wednesday 18 December 2013

A Perfect Writing Day - The Creative Process

A Perfect Writing Day

We all know it's impossible to have a "perfect" day, but as a writer who creates worlds from words, I know that sometimes you can think the impossible is possible. So, what would a perfect writing day look like to me? I've come pretty close in the past, but I've never quite managed it. Here's what a normal writing day is like for me, just for comparison sake.

I get up at 7am and take Miss D to school for 8:40am. If it's a day that includes uni work, that'll be done and finished around 11am. That's when the fun starts! I read through what I wrote the last time I managed to get something done - usually the last chapter or two - and then I start to flex my writing muscles and get going. I write two books at once, so I have to be sure that I know where I am in whichever story I'm working onto make sure I don't start writing about Tara and her visions in a book that has no Tara in it. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to dedicate a couple of hours to writing before I have to do other book admin stuff like updating Facebook or writing these pieces, answering emails and looking for guest blog spots for both myself and for other writers to come to my blog. At 2:40pm, I have to leave to pick up Miss D from school and then once she's home, I'll try to do some more writing, but usually I only manage an hour or so before I have to do other stuff. I'll eat dinner and then retire to bed to watch something while I wind down and get ready to sleep. I'm usually off to the land of nod by about 8pm and then I start again the next day.

So, going off that you can see that on a good day, I'll manage about three, three and a half hours of solid writing. Not all of it will make it into the final edit, but part of being a writer is knowing what will and will not work in your story. Sometimes it's a case of trial and error, but that's a piece for another time. Now, what about a perfect writing day? Let's set the parameters for this perfect day before I explain what I'd like to get done.

In this perfect world, I won't have uni work to take time away from writing. I also wouldn't have the conditions I do which sometimes mean I have to stop and rest and/or nap for a few hours. Miss D would be old enough to get herself to and from school and she'd also be old enough to heed the warning on my office door that says not to enter when you hear typing for fear of being murdered in print! Let's also assume, whilst we're wishing for the impossible, that I would not be held back by writer's block and I wouldn't have to do all the admin work that takes away from writing time. Hey, let's also assume that I don't have to make my own tea and have someone who brings me one whenever I need it, without me needing to say - we are in a perfect world after all!

So, my day would start around 8am. I would get up and have some breakfast and then I'd do the same as I do now. I'd read through my previous day's work and go from there. I would write a couple of chapters and then I'd read through them to see if they are viable enough to be kept or deleted. I would then take a little break and switch over to the other book I'm working on. I'd read through the last couple of chapters of that and then I'd go ahead and do the same as before - write, read, edit, swap. The day would continue along like that. I'd probably get at least four chapters done - at least two of each - and if it was a really perfect day, I'd get eight done. I would also have time to discuss any plot points with my best friend whilst eating dinner and then could retire to bed knowing that I had done a lot of work and could feel good about that.

Now back to reality where chronic illness, nine year olds and writer's block exist. I would consider a good writing day to end with two chapters written and read through. I personally like to sleep on what I write before I'm too quick with the delete button. I want to be sure that I've had a chance to mull it over as it were and decide if Tara really would think or say or do that. I also want a chance for the next plot point to grow in my mind before I put it down on paper and sometimes that happens when you're napping and/or about to fall asleep. At least it does for me.

We don't live in a perfect world and although if I asked other writer's about their perfect day, they'd probably say something similar, sometimes you just have to accept that a good day is as close to "perfect" as you're ever going to get. I know that being an indie author means that you wear a lot of different hats (piece here) and that has some effect on your writing time, but even writers with agents and traditional publishers don't have perfect days. Nor do they always have the time to write when they want to. It's another case of writing being a juggling act. You have to find a balance between what you have to do and what you want to do whilst making sure you don't drop anything.

So, I wish you all many good days rather than perfect ones, because if I was to live in a perfect world, I think I'd get very bored of just churning out book after book. After all, for me at least, it is the world we live in that inspires me and the trials I face that influence what I write. Your mileage may, of course, vary.

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