I'm a slow writer always have been and
always will be. I gasp when I hear about authors who knock off ten
or twenty thousand words in a day. On a good day, I manage about
two pages, and on an average day, one page. But do I worry? No
because as long as I keep writing, the pages keep steadily mounting
up. Even at 650 words a day, that's still 65,000 words in a hundred
days - which is a whole Ferren-size novel. My secret is consistency
I'm always writing, I never stop. Not for weekends, not for
holidays only Xmas and birthdays and special events.
If I have to take a long break, it's a huge
struggle to get back into the world of the story I'm no longer
living in it. For me, it's easier never to stop, so that I don't
have to go through the agony of re-starting! When I sit down to
write every day, I know that, no matter what mood I'm in, very soon
the world will start taking over again. It's bigger than me and
it has its own momentum! I don't worry about being inspired, I don't
have to force myself to sit down to write. I just know I'm going
to do it.
Most professional writers I've talked to say
the same. With a poem or short story, you can wait for inspiration
to come but not with a long novel. A long novel can't depend
on the inspiration of a single day.
So I have a regular writing routine which
is one way of avoiding my old nemesis of writer's block. I start
every morning straight after breakfast and work through till after
lunch, usually 1.30 or 2.30. It doesn't matter to me so much now,
but at first I needed a stopping time as much as a starting time.
If I wrote myself out, exhausted my imagination, then I had no excitement
to go back to next morning.
There's another part of my routine later in
the day which is maybe just me I've never heard of anyone
else doing it, but I'll tell it anyway. After a break of a couple
of hours (doing jobs as far away from writing as possible), I spend
the later part of the afternoon 'realising' the next episode for
tomorrow. By 'realising', I mean working up atmosphere, setting,
feel, the way it's going to present what film makers call
mise-en-scene, I think. For me, it's a sort of pre-filming in my
head (and everyone tells me my novels read like films!). The beauty
of it is that I have a night to 'sleep on it', which somehow solidifies
the scene and makes it real. When I sit down to write the next morning,
it's as though I only have to record something that actually happened!