Saturday, October 18, 2008

Method for Just Getting the Darn Thing Written

You might think I've shut down this blog, but no. I haven't had a lick of time to post, between writing a new book, having to do revisions and read page proofs, give workshops, and run from one end of the country to the other.

Last week I went to Alabama to the Books-a-Million trade fair, then turned around and went to Seattle for the Emerald City writer's conference. Both were terrific, and I learned much. I hope to do a "what I learned" post soon. (short version: romances sell. paranormal romances sell very well. People in Seattle are nice.)

Right now, I'm busily writing about 30 pages a day. I figured out a way to write big chunks like that and keep my sanity, so thought I'd share it.

This method should work no matter how many pages you want to write a day--5, 10, 20.

First, I know pretty much what I want to write. Weeks ago, when I had nothing to say on this book, I couldn't have done it. But I've figured out in my head what I'm doing and where I need to go so I'm now just writing it down.

(Note that I didn't say I outlined it. Ha. Me and the outline don't mix. The best I can do is jotting notes every once in a while. You use whichever prewriting is good for you, or simply sit down and go for it.)

Second, I break my writing into three sessions. For me: the first one is in the morning at a coffee house (with bagel), second mid-morning to about 1 (after I get back from coffee house, putter arond a little, answer my email, etc.), third between lunch and dinner. After the third session I shut down (even if I think I can do more), enjoy dinner, family, tv, books, going out--you know, real life.

Each time I sit down at a session I say: "I'm going to write XX pages." (for me right now it's 10 pages per session, but for you it might be 2 or 5). I don't do anything (no email, no games) until that number of pages is done. I am allowed to go to the bathroom, refresh my tea, pet the cats, or stretch (which you should do) as long as it doesn't take me away more than a couple of minutes.

Each session ends when the page count is met. Period. Then I am free to go to lunch, pay bills, run errands, answer email, pet the cats some more (they insist), take care of family issues--until the next session starts.

Fit your sessions around your life. It's easiest for me to do morning, elevenses, afternoon, because that's how my life flows right now. Yours might be lunch, after dinner, three in the morning.

Why do I stop after the last session even if I think I can keep going? Because if I do too much in one day, I'll be too worn out to do it the next day. My brain cells will cease firing, and I will likely not make the page count that day. The point is to do a certain amount each day, enjoy the time off, and start fresh the next morning.

Also, I don't recommend doing 30 pages a day unless you have a lot of stamina or are a lightning-fast typist--right now I don't have much choice because I'm behind again, and need to meet a deadline.

My method may not work for everyone, but thank heavens it's working for me right now. Deadlines are hell!

I'm also excited because I just sold a new 3-book contract, but I'm not allowed to be excited during my sessions! I save it for in between. :-)



Gillian Layne said...

Hurray for your new contact!! :)

I'm thinking the Universe is trying to tell me something; I've been doing this "write more" technique for three weeks now, and I'm seeing people discussing writing along those same lines all over the place. And now your blog! Or, I'm doing it, and so I'm AWARE of all the other people talking about it.

Either way--I'm sticking with it for a while. I'm very curious about the outcome.

So when you write these 30 pages, do you edit as you go along or save it all for the end?

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

No, no editing as I write. It's free-flow writing, and I'll edit the book as a whole when I have the draft done. When I read the book as a whole, I'll be able to see what scenes will be cut or redone or moved before I spend a lot of time polishing the prose. That's not to say I don't skim through an arbitrary page and fix it a little. I can't help it. But I'll do a big edit and polish when I'm done.

Thanks re the new contract. I'm excited.