We invited author Ebony McKenna today. And she is discussing her writing routine.
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Ask a dozen writers how they write and you’ll get a dozen different answers.
Some love writing by hand, with a pen. On an actual piece of paper. Others need to get out of the house, so they go to a cafe and write there.
Some are busy holding down a day job so they do all their writing at night, when the family is asleep.
All I know is that every writer needs to find a way to write, preferably every day, that works for them. When they stick to it, after a while, they end up producing a completed manuscript.
My ‘plan’ for want of a better word, is to get my son off to school and husband off to work, then plant myself in front of the computer at home. The earlier in the day the better.
I then stay there until I’ve written a thousand words.
Well, that’s the plan.
What usually happens is I turn the computer on, get distracted with facebook, check my emails, get up and make another coffee, come back, open the manuscript file and stare blankly at the screen.
A fair amount of private self-loathing then takes place. My thoughts drift along the lines of, “This is rubbish. I can’t even put my Englishing together today. Oh would you look outside? It’s sunny. Have I watered the plants?”
Sometimes, if I’m extra extra focused, I do manage to get some words down.
Those first couple of hundred words are the hardest. The next couple of hundred aren’t much easier. Then I walk around the kitchen bench a few times to get my steps up. Is that the postie? I’d better check if there’s any mail.
The cat needs a cuddle too.
Then I push myself to write another hundred or so words. And then I’m half way there and I start to find my groove and before I know it I’m at 700 words, so really, if I can just get another page and a bit done, I’ll get to that magical 1,000.
It’s an arbitrary number, but every time I plan a new book, I think of it in easy blocks of words. 1,000 per day, Monday to Friday, means 5,000 words per week, so after 10 or 12 weeks, I’ll have something resembling a first draft.
Not that it works out like that at all. In August this year I’d written 30,000 words of a new manuscript. Now it’s October, I’ve just crept over 40,000 words.
I would have finished it by now if I’d actually stuck to my plan!
You would think that by my 10th or so manuscript I’d be so much more efficient by now. That I’d know what I’m doing.
That I’d know how to write!
But I’m not. I’m still figuratively wading through mayonnaise.
Which can be heartbreaking and frustrating.
So I reach out to my writer friends and discover that we’re all having our good days and bad. Writing up a storm then deleting whole chapters that simply don’t fit.
Wondering why the story won’t simply come together the way we thought it would in our minds.
That’s something I have in common with heaps of writers. We may have completely different places to write - yet we often end up in the same muddle again and again.
And yet, somehow, it does finally all come together. That’s when I look back and think, “why didn’t I just write it like that in the first place?”
and a little bit in love.