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Hot Topic: Your Writing Ability

August 23, 2008  Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: The Craft   3 Comments

Ken started a great topic (look at all the replies!), but since Nicole took it up, I wanted to circle back and expand on it here.

My writing routine
I come home from work. Work does not come home with me. I make an espresso from The Wife Unit’s snobby Italian one-button press Espresso Magic Machine of Love™. If the kids are home and are in a mood to be sociable, I play with the kids, the dog or a combination thereof.

If not I look at the Honey Do list, feel 3.5 nanoseconds of guilt, and fire up the laptop while sipping said espresso. Left alone I can write and average of 24 words a minute. I can type 60, but with self-editing and looking up the occasional factoid, it drops to about half that.

After dinner, Dearest Wife and I attempt to be social with the kids. Sometimes they want to play, sometimes they want to go outside (if the weather is nice), and sometimes they want to play board games. I treasure these moments. I have banned electronics after dinner, and it is a great way to talk and have fun with Thing One and Thing Two.

Through attachment parenting techniques that—wonders of wonders, work for us—the kids are in bed before 9:00 after reading time. While they are sleepy, either I tickle them or we simply talk.

Around 9:10, well that is when the flood starts. The TiVo hard disk is full and deleting things I would love to watch but cannot find the time. The Xbox 360 is lonely. The wife is playing her online game. The dog is sleepy. You cannot find the cats. The laptop beckons. The fingertips engage.

The torrent has started. It will not end. I drink a glass of wine to make me sleepy or I would stay up too late.

This is how I write 1,000 to 3,000 words a day, every day. On the weekends, I add an hour or two to the routine.

It is a flood

It is water to the parched

It is a sunrise to the blind

It is music to the deaf

It is an addiction both wondrous and frightening

It is euphoria.

Household chores, my lovely wife, fixing dinner, special occasions, the piano, the kids, going to the firing range and in-depth research will pull me from this routine, but inadvertently I snap back on the rails.

I will let you in on a little secret: analytical thinking is a skill and if you are good at it, you can write with your outline solely in your head. There is no plotting. The plot simply is. The Zen of Writing is now caressing you like a lover. Your characters breathe. They are sitting in the same room with you. In this state, it is possible to write as fast as you can type, and your brain is running ahead of your typing ability to pave the way to the conclusion. Some can write this way. Others cannot.

Left alone, one day I wrote 13,000 words. It was easy. I wrote a 150,000-word novel in three months. That was easy too. Research… ugh. Not so easy, but research is fun.

On Word Counts
I have fallen into a rhythm while watching my word count. I use it both as a progress meter but also as a bloat detection device. Free-flow writing has its disadvantages. You go off into places you should not go. Now I use my word count to stop screwing around and get crisp. The word count is a great tool: Do I need to go forward? Or do I need to back up?

I am approaching 600 words now. See? If this were not a blog entry, I would start deleting things to make my point in 500 words. 400. Can I do it in 300? I believe the six readers of my blog will forgive me if I let the dog out and clean the bathroom a bit instead. Life is wondrous, I must have it all, even the mundane parts.


3 comments on: Hot Topic: Your Writing Ability

  1. Ken Kiser August 23, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Having a good daily rhythm makes all the difference. Yours sounds pleasant.

  2. Nicole August 23, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    I’d like to try the wine trick, but if I was getting likkered up at 5 am, hubby might wonder at my parental abilities the rest of the day… So far, my highest word count in one session was 1446, but who’s counting? Keep up the good work!

  3. alexmoorewrites August 23, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Thank you, Anthony, for that post. It was silky fun, made me smile, made me nod in recognition. And, it was one of those posts that made me stop & think, “wow. i needed that.” so thank you:)

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