At church this morning, the lady who sits in the row behind me most Sundays asked if I was gearing up for the retreat next month (I’m the retreat leader). I told her I was focused right now on getting a book written in August. She said, "A whole book?" and I told her it was a novella. From there she asked the usual questions about how I plot and how I come up with ideas, etc. And the answers were so boring. "Well, it varies from writer to writer. There is no one way to do it."
How unsatisfying that must be to the curious, but it’s the truth. There is no definitive answer. There is no right way to write. What matters is the finished product, not how a writer gets there. There are writers who write rough drafts of a whole novel in a week to ten days (something like 10,000 or more words per day). Then they start layering and adding and layering and fixing and layering. I tend to fall into the camp of those who write pages that are pretty much finished the day I write them and will just need a final proof and polish. So my words per day output is more along the lines of 1,000 to 2,000 (the latter being a great day).
I’ve said before that a lot of the questions writers asked other writers is not for learning more about the craft of writing but a deep desire to find an easier way to do it. And there is no easier way. Honest. If you naturally are plot-focused, chances are you wish you could just sit down and create the way those blasted seat-of-the-pants writers do it. And if you are one of those SOTP writers, you probably wish you were a detailed plotter. Wouldn’t matter. It would still be hard.
Best advice I can give aspiring writers is to just write. Whatever way it works for them is the way a writer should do it.
One question that always surfaces at some point is about inspiration. "What inspires you to write?" Deadlines. Paying the mortgage. Buying groceries. A writer writes. A bookkeeper keeps books. Same song, different melody. They just do it. You cannot wait for inspiration to keep books if that is your job, and you cannot wait for inspiration to write if you’re a writer. You have to write until you get through the garbage to unearth the pearls. Inspiration doesn’t find you. You find it.
Good advice for me as I get more into book #3 of the Hart’s Crossing series. Yesterday I spent hours reading info about Little League baseball. How big of a part will LL baseball have in the novella? Probably not as big a part as the time devoted to research would indicate, but it’s all part of the job.
I’m feeling eager for morning. I’m ready to get moving on this story, and I hope to make this week a super productive one.