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Writing Process? What Writing Process?

Ah, the ever elusive 'writing process'. I've been a writer for years but as an author I’m a fairly new having published my first book in 2011 and two more since. Over the past three years I’ve been happily writing away, working towards my dreams of being a famous novelist, and feel pretty good about a strong ‘author voice’ that seems to be developing. The more you write the closer you get to finding the voice that’s uniquely yours, pulling bits and pieces from those you admire and drawing from your own experiences and mental meanderings. I think the same goes for landing on a writing process that works for you. However, I’m having a slightly more difficult time nailing that down.

I read a blog a while ago that talked about famous writers’ writing processes. I found it fascinating as I struggle to find one that works for me day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year. I did a search to see if I could find that particular blog again so I could at least give a ‘shout out’ and came across dozens more. So, as the Internet is wont to do, it led me down many a garden path, where I tried to get into the headspace of a few famous writers to see if there might be an effective process that spoke to me that I could adopt.

I found some real gems in James Clears’ blog post, “The Daily Routines of 12 Famous Writers and how they can Help you Succeed.”

How do Famous Writers do it?
In his blog, James includes a quote from Haruki Murakami where Murakami shares that the repetition of a daily routine, with no variations, is his secret. Up at 4 a.m., write for six hours, go for a run, swim, read, listen to music and then to bed. Sounds like a great day to me… other than the God-awful start time.

Kurt Vonnegut gets up almost as early and does push ups and sit-ups. I like to start my day with an hour of yoga so I can sort of relate to that.

Maya Angelou rented a hotel room in her hometown, paid for it monthly and wrote there every day from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Barbara Kingsolver (whose book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I’m reading now and loving!) gets up at 4 a.m. too. I get that for her since she lives on a farm... gotta collect those eggs! Oh, and she says she likes to get in a few hours before the kids get up. I just have a cat who takes up half my desk but is happy for me to be writing all day long.

Is there a trend?
I’m seeing some similarities here, are you? Early risers, a little exercise and solid writing time and routine (every day!).

I found one night owl in BrainPickings’ article (where James found some of his examples) “The Daily Routines of Famous Writers.” The writer notes that Jack Kerouac is quoted as saying, “I had a ritual once of lighting a candle and writing by its light and blowing it out when I was done for the night… and also kneeling and praying before starting.”

Khaled Hosseini says, “You have to write whether you feel like it or not.” I think he’s right but I’m much better at doing that when I’m under deadline. As an indie author, I set my own deadlines, which I’ve found to be quite moveable… especially when I have the excuse that client work comes first!

Then, I came across some great advice in an Aerogramme Writers’ Studio article, “23 Tips from Famous Writers for New and Emerging Authors." Canadian author, Tara Moss says, “Give yourself the mental freedom to enjoy the process, because the process of writing is a long one. Be wary of ‘writing rules’ and advice. Do it your way.”

What is my way?
I do write every day but I could use a little more structure. Each morning I tend to look at what’s on my plate and based on how I’m feeling, choose which project to tackle first. It’s worked all right so far, but it does encourage procrastination (one of my biggest flaws) and has meant that my next novel has taken much longer to finish. But, it's almost done! Honest...

So... I'd love to hear - What works for you?


I-Padmini said…
I think routine is important, whether you write during the day or night. That's what all these famous writers seem to be telling us! I too wrote my first book with great diligence, but find that this second is taking forever!
Really looking forward to reading your new book, Anne!
Anne OConnell said…
Hi Paddi, I think you're right! I'm hoping my new book will be out before Christmas. Would you like to be one of my Beta readers? If you are interested, I'll be sending out emails over the summer. Anne :)
JeriWB said…
Just going through the process of trying to get my first book into decent shape has shown me I have issues with plotting. Scrivener has proven helpful in that manner. I guess sticking to it is what matters most. A lot of the time, I will simply not work on it to avoid the needed revisions. Writing is such a pleasurable pain at times!
Tricialafille said…
I've been struggling with this too. I'm fortunate to have lots of free time to write, but that's the problem: I think I can always "get to it" sometime later in the day. You've inspired me to start--right now--to create a writing schedule. Thank you!
Tricialafille said…
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Tricialafille said…
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Tricialafille said…
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Tricialafille said…
Well, in case you didn't hear it the first time...sorry guys, for the repetition. Didn't get a "You've successfully submitted!" notice, so kept going. Ah, technology.
Anne OConnell said…
Hi Jeri, I'm going to use Scrivener for my next novel for sure. I think it'll be a great tool :) Pleasurable Pain... how true!

Tricia, no worries. I deleted the repeats. Glad to be of help!

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