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March 29, 2010 / theoldsilly

How Do I Write?

Unlike a lot of other author/bloggers, my blog doesn’t focus singularly on the craft of writing. I visit lots of great writers’ blogs and enjoy the learning experience and information I can count on when I go there. It’s great. But me, while I do post writing tutorials, host and interview authors, and post plenty of things literary here, I like to keep the mix shifting from writing, to all things spiritual, to an occasional social/economic.political tirade rant commentary, to the completely-off-the-wall-but-interesting … with lots of humor laced throughout the offerings. That be the way The Old Silly rolls here at Free Spirit.

And on the pure writers’ blogs, often the authors will write about their particular writing regimens, what works best and what doesn’t get it for him or her. Today I’m going to share with y’all how I go about the process of writing. Well, not everything, that would take a whole book … but here are

Five Basics to The Old Silly’s Writing Process

1. I write two thousand words a day, minimum, be it in a WIP, a blog post, or an article, or some combination of all of the above. Every day I write – even if there is no inspiration and nothing but crap comes out, out it comes.

2. When I get in the blessed “writer’s zone”, where the inspirations are coming faster than I can key them in, I sometimes write 10,000 words within a 24 hour period. Very little sleep, short eat breaks, I keep blog-hopping and posting to a bare minimum, and please … don’t interrupt me for nothin’ unless it’s very important – I might snap at you. I happen to be on the event horizon of such a black hole of literary paradise right now. A book I’ve been working on for over two years with little progress and a stilted muse has suddenly slammed into high gear and I am getting possessed with it. Love it when that happens.

3. I start with an outline, forged from usually weeks or even months of an idea gestating and formulating in my mind. It is just a sketch, a roadmap into the realm of possibilities with a vague list of things that could happen and one idea how it might end. And I have never written a book that wound up following the outline. Never. Along the way the characters come to life, start talking to me, and they write themselves the way they want their stories to be. I become their willing servant, doing my best to do service to their life story. If your outline is almighty above serendipitous, spontaneous creativity, in my opinion, you are missing out on the possibilty of releasing genius.

4. I resist the temptation to edit as I write my first draft. Except for glaring boo-boos that will distract my focus unless they are fixed right now, I let weak scenes go, clichés are allowed temporary existence if I cannot quickly come up with something more original and brilliant, and I spend very little time on the Thesaurus trying to find that “perfect” word to replace the habitual word I use so often to describe this or that. Time for all that in the self-editing/revisions/rewriting phase of the book. For now, just write. Head down, keyboard clicking and dancing, plow forward as fast as you can, with care about detail to the wind.

5. I wait at least two weeks, sometimes even a month, after finishing a first draft to go back to it and read it with fresh eyes when entering the self-editing and rewriting stage. During the break, I read a lot. I read books in a similar genre and/or subject matter. I might also work on another book. But it is important to me that I distance myself from my work for a good length of time after birthing the baby before raising it up into a full grown novel. Also during the break time, I will give the first draft to one or two DTR’s (Designated Trusted Readers) – peeps who are well read, knowledgable about good writing, and honest enough to give me valuable and candid feedback on what I’ve written – what they liked, did not like, were “so-so” about, and why. This helps a great deal when it’s time to take the full speed ahead writer’s cap off and put the polishing editor’s cap on.

So there you have it. I could write, and will in the future, more about my writing regimen and philosophy, but I gotta go … my characters are calling to me. This book is growing fast inside me, and I’m about to zone out.

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  1. Cactus Annie / Mar 29 2010 5:49 am

    Very interesting, Old Silly. I fancy myself writing a book one day, and can only imagine what excitement it would be to get in the “writer’s zone” – sounds way cool!

  2. Marcus Franks / Mar 29 2010 5:55 am

    The “writers zone” sounds like the place to be if you are a writer.Thanks for sharing the “way you roll,” Marv. 😉

  3. Elizabeth Spann Craig / Mar 29 2010 6:24 am

    Sounds like a good process to me! I’m with you on the not editing until you’re done thing.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  4. Barbra Kelser / Mar 29 2010 7:20 am

    Must be cool to be in the “zone”!

  5. unwriter1 / Mar 29 2010 7:47 am

    I’ve tried the outline and as you so aptly say, the characters write their own lines. I don’t write as much, but I understand when the muse hits. Some good points there old silly.

  6. L. Diane Wolfe / Mar 29 2010 7:53 am

    I’m with you on most of that Marvin! I never edit the first draft – that’s why I hand write it. In ink!

  7. Alex J. Cavanaugh / Mar 29 2010 8:00 am

    I need to write more…

  8. tashabud / Mar 29 2010 8:28 am

    Better hurry up finishing your book, so it will be ready for Christmas sale. I’ll be first in line. Enjoyed reading this post. I haven’t done much with my novel lately. It’s collecting dust, I’m afraid. Even with my limited experience with novel writing, I know what you meant when you said that your characters’ personalities and stories often times deviate from your original outline.

    Thanks for sharing,

  9. ReformingGeek / Mar 29 2010 8:29 am

    Wow! Writer’s zone. Cool. Is there a pill for that?

    Thanks for sharing what works for you, Marvin!

  10. Karen Walker / Mar 29 2010 9:01 am

    Cool! I love reading about other writers’ processes. I dont edit as a go, either. Loving that you’re in the “zone.” Happy writing, Marvin.

  11. Terri Dryden / Mar 29 2010 10:33 am

    Okay, I get it, I get it!!! I thought I could just have you do all the editing!!! Didn’t know I was supposed to do the first one, hehehehe (wink, wink).

    • theoldsilly / Mar 29 2010 11:27 am

      That’s right, and don’t you forget it! 😉

  12. Elspeth Antonelli / Mar 29 2010 10:57 am

    I’m taking a moment as I think about the blessed ‘zone’. Ah…. Okay, I’m back. I try not to edit as I write as well. As for daily goals – I’m flexible. Sometimes it might be a word count, sometimes it might be to get to a certain point in the plot. Either way, it moves me further along. Further along is good.

  13. Leeuna / Mar 29 2010 11:00 am

    Looking forward to the finished product, Marvin. My novel screeched to a stop a few months ago and I can’t seem to go forward with it. Also, as my work develops, my characters take on a life of their own. I never adhere strictly to my outline either. I write a lot in my head while I’m doing other things.

    • theoldsilly / Mar 29 2010 11:26 am

      What I do – and thanks for the comment, Leeuna – is I have at least two sometimes three WIP’s going at all times. So when my muse gets muleheaded and stubborn, I can switch to another story for a while. Rarely is there not at least one story I have going that does not stimulate the creativity. But best wishes for your continued writing!

  14. yvonne lewis / Mar 29 2010 11:05 am

    Five very good tips Marvin, I can talk 2,000 words a day but write?
    I did enjoy what you had written but can you tell me why your blog don’t appear on my list of blogs I follow?
    I have to get on by clicking on one of your comments.


    • theoldsilly / Mar 29 2010 11:24 am

      Yvonne, yeah sorry, I don’t have a “follow this blog” widget like they have on blogspot blogs. I’m working on a main website that will host this blog and by then I’ll have the (it takes an upgrade) WordPress “Networked Blogs” gadget that peeps can click on to “Follow this Blog”. In the meantime, thanks for subscribing to the posts and feeds via RSS.

  15. zhadi / Mar 29 2010 11:10 am

    10,000 words in a day? My mind is boggling. I bet they can hear the sound of my mind boggling from MILES away!

    • theoldsilly / Mar 29 2010 11:22 am

      Hey Zeez – I THOUGHT I heard some boggling coming from somewhere! 😉

  16. Thelma Banks / Mar 29 2010 12:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Old Silly. It’s fascinating to me to read how authors go about their writing. It’s WAY beyond me how anyone can write a novel – but some people just have the gift, I guess, lol.

  17. Stanley Berber / Mar 29 2010 12:10 pm

    You know, when I used to play team sports, we would sometimes get in “the zone” – everything clicking, all the players seemingly reading each other’s minds, plays running like swift, perfect clockwork. When we played that way, we always won. I can imagine a writer who can write from “the zone” writes a winner of a book, too!

  18. Arlee Bird / Mar 29 2010 12:34 pm

    Your philosophy sounds like mine– I like to mix things up a lot. You probably are funnier than I am, but sometimes I thnk people take what I say in jest as something serious–I gotta practice that humor thing I guess.
    Maybe you can drop a word on our April Blogging From A to Z challenge even though you’re not going to participate. And hope you don’t mind if I do so in my comment.

    I’d like to invite your readers to join us in a blogging challenge for the month of April. Check it out at Blogging From A to Z

    Thanks Marvin for the encouragement and for being silly (I won’t mention being old cause I’m about the same age).

    • theoldsilly / Mar 29 2010 1:22 pm

      Oh sure, Arlee, I absolutely will include a plug for your challenge – I think it’s a very creative and fun sounding thing to do – just doesn’t fit with my agenda on this blog. And by all means, drop in and plug your blog and challenge as often as you want. 🙂

  19. L. Diane Wolfe / Mar 29 2010 3:25 pm

    I don’t have a minimum, but I know I write a lot every day! I love my outlines, too. I guess mine are just vague enough I have no trouble following them – LOL!

  20. Galen Kindley / Mar 29 2010 4:42 pm

    I sooo want to do the outline thing for the next book. Never done one before and it seems like a good exercise to try. It’s good to know you rarely end up where you originally thought you might go…outline wise. I was always afraid the outline would take over, but seems like it’s just a jumping off point.

    Thanks, Galen.

    • theoldsilly / Mar 29 2010 5:17 pm

      Correct, Galen. That’s the point from and direction in you first jump. But be ready for new twists and turns on the way as they come to you and your characters, hm?

  21. Kissie / Mar 29 2010 10:29 pm

    You are such a good teacher, I learn from you without even trying. Before I get out of bed in the mornings, you have already been there. You leave a nugget for me to find when I arise from my slumber.

    If I can get past number 4, that would be a great deal for me. You hate to let me

    Gotta go!!! She’s in labor!

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