Some subscribers contacted me about my writing process, so I thought I’d make it a blog.
2019 was a super-productive year for me. Maybe it was because I spent so much time between the release of Dino Hunt in 2015 and the release of Mighty Mary in 2018, studying, earning my philosophy degrees and trying to build myself into a better writer. So, given the freedom of (a very little bit) more time, I churned out four first drafts and finalized Spirits of the Ice Forest for submission. When I say time, I don’t really mean I had much. In 2019, I completed two teaching degrees while working full time in Holmesglen, my Trade School.
But when you’ve got to get it out, it’s all about regimentation. Set time for writing. I have four hours out of every day between when I get home from work in which writing is done. Or sitting there staring at the screen. Both are acceptable. I will sit there for that time whether I have anything to work on or not – if there’s a total blank in my mind, I’ll read but I make time to read every day as well, between dinner and sleep.
So that gets me through the slate of projects. But what about when it’s done? First of all, it’s never done. There are four other first drafts I put down last year that now need to be rewritten and there’s still my great epic that’s now fourteen years old that I have to get back to and finalize. I know it’s time to finalize because it fits into a traditional story structure without feeling forced, it’s original and it fulfills the expectations of my initial vision. I know the four others aren’t there yet because they’re only first drafts: they’re nothing but vision. They need to be tightened and put through the framework.
But it’s not time to do that yet. I need to distance myself from a first draft if I’m to pummel it into a second and third. I need another year. So what in that time? That’s time for more first drafts… but what does one do when there are no ideas?
It’s extremely daunting. What does my head in is when people say, “I wish I had time to write” because having time is the death of inspiration to me. If hell existed, there’d be a special one for writers and it would be nothing but a clean schedule and the mocking stare of a featureless blank page for all eternity. You’ve got to go out and get those ideas. I read history, obviously, as well as a lot of fiction, but I also absorb the news with voracious enthusiasm. There is literally no waking time of day when my brain is not engaged in some kind of learning, especially not when I’m teaching.
Then I let what I take in form itself into images. I use a lot of imagery in my books and that’s because stories communicate to me through images – I used to be a screenwriter and I guess that’s where that comes from. For me crafting a first draft is about collating a series of images into a coherent order. The second draft is working a story through them. And it’s not just landscape. Amanda, my partner, is also a writer and she quizzes me about where my characters come from – it’s life. People I meet in life or see on the news. NEVER other fictional characters.
I’ll do one on character next week.
Hope everyone is doing okay in the ongoing madness and that it all ends soon and we can start to rebuild. At the moment, I’m reading The Lord of the Rings again. I love it. My review will be posted soon on Goodreads.
Stay safe everyone.