Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Get into that writing routine.

People are often amazed when I tell them I’m able to write a 60 000- to 70 000-word novel in under two months. This is notwithstanding that I have a demanding day-job at a South African newspaper publisher and, on top of that, still have editing obligations for one of my publishers in the States.

Add to that that I’m often helping out behind the scenes on indie movie sets or photo shoots, and sometimes have a social life over the weekends. How is this possible?

First off, it’s not easy. Routine is everything. I try to squeeze in the writing and editing on the train in the mornings, during my lunch hour, then have to dedicate at least two or three hours in the evenings. There’s no getting away from that. I have to do this every day. And sleep is a valuable commodity. I’ve learnt to cope on five to six hours a night.

I divide my work into an editing, reading and writing cycle, giving my full attention to a scene or chapter at a time before moving onto another manuscript, working on up to five documents in a cycle. Why? I have a very short attention span. This means I usually work in bursts of about three quarters of an hour. Then I get up, stretch, maybe check email or make a cup of coffee, and start all over again.

But that’s me, and I’ve found that diversifying my activities helps me concentrate and be fresh when I return to a manuscript in the next cycle.

What you have to do is find a system that works for you but then be consistent in applying it. If you are easily distracted by the television or internet, set aside time every day, be it half an hour or an hour, every day, where these evils will not keep you from your work.

Because I can never guarantee where I’ll be at any given time, I’ve had to make my workspace mobile. Investing in a netbook has probably been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I honestly don’t know how I managed without, but I didn’t let that stop me. I used to write my earlier novels out longhand in notebooks before inputting them whenever I was near a computer.

The point I’m trying to make is if you really want to succeed at being an author, you’ll find creative ways in which to overcome your limitations. I’ve met so many people who’ve told me they’ve got this great idea for a novel. It’s all stored up in their grey matter. All they need to do is write it.

But they never do. They’re always making excuses.

“I’m waiting to buy a new computer.”

“I’m waiting for things to settle at home.”

“I need to pack out the boxes so I can use the study.”

You know what? There’s never a perfect time to write a novel. You just have to knuckle under and do it, even if you’re living in a trailer and don’t always have electricity. Otherwise you’ll always be talking about it.

* * * *

Books one and two of my urban fantasy Khepera series are available at the following links:

Lyrical Press: http://www.lyricalpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=authors&authors_id=107

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=nerine+dorman

Kalahari.net: http://www.kalahari.net/page_templates/searchresults.aspx?searchText=nerine+dorman&navigationid=632&displayShop=books

1 comment:

淑慧 said...