Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Writing Day.

I often mention that I may only spend a few hours actually writing.

But that's not the true story.  The true story is a put in a full day preparing myself for a few hours of actual writing.

I'm sure other writers do it differently.  I'm sure other writers will say hogwash to this entire setup.

But this is how I do it.

I more or less start at 11:00.  I know that sounds late, but it's when I started work at the store for more than 20 years and I think that is when my brain is actually willing to engage.  Up to then, I'll shower and drink coffee and read the paper and peruse the internet.

So at 11:00 I start.  What follows looks a lot like procrastination.  But I call it priming the pump, filling the well, preparing my brain and my spirit for writing.  This might take an hour or two.  I may lay down and close my eyes (and try not to fall asleep) or I may walk around or I may talk to myself.  But I'm trying to visualize what I want to accomplish in this writing session.

I basically come to the very edge of writing but don't actually write. 

At some point in the these two hours, either early or late, I'll hit a trigger phrase or image and I'll start writing.  I always can feel when it is time.

Then I'll just write.  That part I can't explain.

After awhile, usually an hour or two, I'll run out of steam.  I most often won't have reached my 2000 word goal.

I then walk away from the writing, but try not to do anything too worthwhile.  Again, this looks a lot like procrastination, but it is just daydreaming.  Often in the daydreaming period, (either the early one or this one) nothing really comes to mind but as long as I'm in the fictional dream, I'm trusting that my subconscious is working on it.

The subconscious is the magic.  I don't control it.  My whole job is to nurture it, keep it fed, protect and shelter it.

I may play solitaire, or nap, or walk around, or play with the cat, or any number of meaningless, brainless activities.

Then I'll prepare myself to write again, much like in the morning.  Again, usually I get a trigger phrase or image and start writing.

Most often, I finish up.

Sometimes I can't quite get there, so I just stick around and stick around, and sometimes the day goes into night before the 2000 words are done.

But more often, I'll finish at around 4:00 or 5:00.  But even then I'm not done.  I try to stay in the fictional dream for a couple more hours.  I'm not sure what is happening during this period.  Sometimes I have very specific ideas about what I want to do the next day, but most often not.  I don't know why this cooling off period is necessary, but it is.  I think the subconscious is absorbing what I did and mulling over where to go next.

That's it.  Then I'm done.  An 8 hour day or more, in which I may have only written for 2 or 3 hours.  But it was all necessary.

Even outside these 8 hours, I usually want to keep activities at a low-key, rout sort of mode.  Nothing upsetting or two exciting.  Even when I'm not writing, I'm trying to keep the fictional dream going.  This is where the self-isolation really becomes noticeable.  If I could just do the 8 hours of work and then live my life like normal people, it wouldn't be such a problem.

But I spend most of my day, conscious or asleep, nurturing the fictional dream. 

Keeping that warm glow going...

And that's my writing day.


Duncan McGeary said...

I call this the "process" and I think it's as important as the actual writing. I was very ineffective in my earlier career, so I was focused on arriving at an effective method. So this is what I came up with by trial and error. That plus the stricture against rewriting extensively before I'm done, and not "forcing" it, and finally, the wonders of computing, have all made it possible to write.

Duncan McGeary said...

Oh, and two other things.

Do the 2000 words per day, unless completely blocked.

Finish the book.