My process

I’m friends with Chris Brecheen, who does a blog about writing, and he posts re-runs sometimes. The latest one was about his process. He says that he has been told that some day he’s going to be so sick of the question he’d rather poke out his eye with a refrigerator magnet than answer it (paraphrased), but then he wrote a big long post about it with references to cherries and the like.

In the (hah!) hopes that some day I will become famous and someone will ask me, I am hereby answering that question. I guess that means I’m popping my own cherry. How masturbatory.

I dunno. I’m pretty scattered. I don’t write every day. I don’t write at the same time every day. Chris really likes this old writer named Dorothea Brande,* who was the person who suggested writing at the same time every day, so that’s probably where the advice comes from. If I were to write at the same time every day, I’d have to get up 1-2 hours earlier than I do and I hate the very thought of that with a burning passion. See, I have a gold medal in insomnia and getting to sleep is hard, so why would I want to wake up earlier than I have to? If you haven’t slept, your writing is going to be shit anyway. Also, I have ADHD (see previous post). That means it’s hard to do anything regularly unless I have to physically go somewhere to do so.** Maybe when I’m rich-and-famous I can have a shed in which I write, but I have to write first.

When I do write, I typically put on my writing playlist first. It’s full of hard rock, industrial, dubstep, and 80s music like Madonna. I pick it for the beat and the general tenor of the music. I’ve listened to all those songs so many times I no longer need to ‘hear’ them so I just let them subliminally wash through me and add to the tone of my books.

Why, no, I don’t write middle grade. Why do you ask?

I have three monitors. The big one sits in the middle and I have two equal-sized ones that I have mounted to each side. On the left side is my collection of a million-and-one tabs, including my Google Play tab. On the right side is my social media screen, which I almost always have open to Slack because that’s where my writer buddies hang out. I turn Facebook off because Facebook is the time killer.

I have the middle screen completely filled in with Scrivener, the software I use for my novel. Scrivener is like the industry standard for novelists. It looks a little overwhelming at first, but it’s awesome and I’ll probably do a whole entry just on it. My Scrivener always has the left side open to the binder and the right side open to the inspector.

I usually read a bit of what I wrote the previous time, to get a feel for what I was doing, and then I start writing. Because I have ADHD and can hyperfocus, I tend to lose track of time. I think I write about 500-600 words per hour, but I’m not sure. There are times I giggle incessantly and other times where I stop, mid-sentence, and stare off into space. Sometimes I write a scene and hate it, at which point I might stop, split my screen, and rewrite it, but mostly I just keep going and make notes in the note pad portion of Scrivener that say “fix this.”

I’m in a critique group that requires I produce 3000-3500 words of new material each week, six weeks out of seven, so there are times when I finish the last word and immediately send it off to my crit group. Other times, I just let it sit. I’ve got a nice “cushion” of a few weeks’ worth of submissions so I’m not feeling pressured to write right now. (It’s a benign pressure, mostly created by myself.)

Then, typically, I go to bed. Sometimes I’ll stay awake, staring at the ceiling, thinking about what I could do with my story, but I’ve found it’s actually much more productive to think through story issues in the car than it is in bed, probably because my body is occupied driving the car, but my body isn’t really doing anything in bed but laying there. That could be an ADHD-related thing.

*I get no kickbacks from anything I link to.
** Kaiser (my HMO) keeps trying to treat my various joint problems by giving me sheets of paper with exercises on them and telling me “do these exercises 2-3 times a day.” I can’t do that. I can’t even remember to do that. Which is why my joints suck. If I had to go somewhere, I could do it. I got a lot more exercise when I had a personal trainer to try not to let down.

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