How I write

When I mention to friends and acquaintances that I write novels in my spare time – novels that are four or five hundred pages in length – they are frequently stunned.  “How is that possible?  I could never do that!  How do you ever find the time?”  It’s like I’ve somehow pulled off a miracle, and “poof!”, the books have appeared upon a pedestal in cosmic sparkles and light as if ordained from on high! Nothing could be further from the truth.  The real answer is actually quite simple and very straightforward.  A writer isn’t a writer unless he or she is actually writing.  Having great ideas is one thing, but it takes patience and persistence, over time, to get those ideas into something of novel length.

Let me explain.  Writing, in many ways, is something most of us do all the time.  We communicate with someone else in our business via e-mail, send a quick text to a friend, or we write a thank you to that special person who gave us a gift.  If someone were to accumulate everything we wrote in a week, just the normal stuff, it would be quite a lot.  Add up the “writings” of a full year, and that may just be a couple of hundred pages.  Writing a novel can be much the same process – a steady trickle of effort that accumulates over time.

You see, I never have enough time for writing (in my mind).  I always want more, but obligations and schedules and priorities push “writing time” into the discretionary parts of my life – and rightly so.  Therefore, I must be content with writing what I can in the time I have.  I may be able to only write a paragraph or two if time is tight.  I may, if particularly inspired and blessed with a long, uninterrupted period, be able to knock out a number of pages.  It’s not like sitting down for a marathon session, though, and fifty or a hundred pages magically appear on the screen.  It just doesn’t happen like that.  A novel starts, and it grows a little, day by day.

Perhaps, there are authors out there who can churn out dozens of pages in a sitting.  For me, I need time between “scenes” to cook up what’s going to come next.  That’s why it’s actually nice, sometimes, to force myself to take a break from writing and work on proofreading or editing.  That way, when I come back to the actual creative part, I’m really ready to engage (like someone who has stayed away from chocolate for a few days so they can break bad for one special dessert).  Also, never believe that editing isn’t creative, too.  It’s just a different type of creative, like changing to an exercise that uses a different set of muscles while you’re working out.

The other sections in this tab detail the mechanics of how I write, proofread, and what equipment I’ve found helpful.  Maybe you will, too.

JTL

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