How I Write

In the last eight years, since around the middle of 2005, I’ve written ten full novels, three screenplays, one teleplay and several short stories. In total, I’ve cleared well over TWO MILLION words in that time. That’s right, 2,000,000, with six zeroes. Impressed yet? Don’t be. I have no social life.

And if you are asking how I’ve been able to knock out so many words, I have a very simple answer: I chose to do it. That’s all it is. If you are a writer, or aspiring writer, you must chose to do it. If you aren’t writing everyday than you are choosing to do something else with your time. It’s that simple.

Sound harsh? Too bad. That’s reality. I know it’s a daunting task, to write. Everyday. Over and over. But there is a certain amount of conditioning involved, much like exercising your body, that must be put into daily writing. The discipline I gained from being an athlete for most of my life has paid dividends now as a writer.

I took much of the structure of my daily writing from Stephen King’s On Writing and I can’t recommend this non-fiction book from the master of horror highly enough. There, I used an adverb. Ironic because King hates them. I agree but I couldn’t resist in this case. His 2,000 words per day output is the way to go. Read the book. It’s motivating, it’s inspiring. Before then I had written two novels that I never finished. Once I finished King’s book, I haven’t stopped writing since.

Let me be more specific. The same as Stephen King and another horror writer Dean Koontz, I never plot. I have an idea, one that most times has been simmering and gestating within this head of mine (look, it ain’t pretty but it works) and must be unleashed to the world. I make notes and then come back to them later. Sometimes they are good ideas, some times crap. The ones that stick, that twist and turn in my mind over and over are the ones that stay and become novels.

It’s funny because before I ever finished a single one I thought I only had so many inside me ready to write. And once I completed those that would be that. No more. The opposite has happened. The more I write, the more ideas I have. Various series expand and grow on their own. It’s awesome.

So back to being specific on the day to day. I write every first draft in notebooks by hand. Yep, I’m old school. I write ten pages a day, roughly 1500 words. Not quite 2K but oh well. The first draft can be harder because I don’t know where it’s going so ten pages just feels right to me. It’s a nice clean number. Then I let the book sit for at least a couple of months. That’s right, I don’t read it right away. Never. It’s a bad idea so don’t do it! Most of the time I leap frog novels, i.e. I write one until it’s finished, begin writing another a week or so later then go back to the first with a fresh perspective.

For the rewrite I do it all on the computer, 2K per day, everyday. It’s easier because I know the story now after having told it to myself in the first draft. Second draft is telling he story to the world. Then I try to get as much feedback as I can and do a third draft polish, checking for “wishy washy” language and typos. This part is a pain in the neck but I’ve made my peace with it. It’s part of the process so must be done. I do more polishing after that but you have to be careful with too much. Sometimes you must sit back and declare, it’s finished!

So, what are you waiting for? Go write!

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