November 7, 2010

Everyday I Write The Book

It has been my intention from the beginning to write about the process of writing my book, but the actually writing of it has superseded this meta look at the process. I started on September and I am only about 30 pages, 17,000 words in, but that is okay because I feel I have a good writing routine going. Like a good runner, I have a routine and am trying to stay on it. I don’t give myself too many outs, and I break up my training. I am writing everyday. This is what it looks like: During the week, I work on the book for at least an hour a day. I take a break from the book on the weekends to write blog posts. I hope to write at least one professional and one personal blog a week. The blogging has become like a treat for my dedication to the book. You know you are in a good place when you reward yourself for writing with more writing. ( I was just amazed how much faster my typing has become, another benefit of writing daily.)

Some nights are more productive then others, but I feel it is vital that I dedicate at least an hour a day. I may be over writing the first draft a bit at times, especially when I spend over an hour on one paragraph, but the sculpting of the words comes naturally, so I am going with it. I want to try to write more and faster for the next month to give the story some girth. I am starting to see some common themes emerging. Just today, I moved the manuscript from Word to Scrivner, which has allowed me to start sorting ideas into chapters, scenes etc…

image by Gonzalo Barrientos
 The book itself is not a novel or a memoir, but something in between. As of now it is a series of first person, present tense scenes, images of various events in my life. I am a bit worried because many of the scenes are alone in my head, and need some texture and conflict. I am aware of this, though I am not sure how to add that in. The book is a look at memory and how the fleeting nature of our existence is often replaced by fiction. Basically, we don’t remember much, and what we forget we recreate and call it life. Basically, I am writing about the most important events in my life, call it a life, and then I want to go back and fill in the scenes with fiction. Perhaps add characters, change events, tweak it and see what happens. I want to rewrite my life. Basically, I am writing the skeleton based on facts, and muscling it with fiction.

At this stage, I not too worried about structure. I will wait until there is more there, but the move to Scrivner tonight helped me begin to see the book as a whole, and I hope to start identifying themes and motifs in the coming weeks..

I have really been enjoying this process. This routine seems to be working for me, because I never feel like the writing is a chore. My mind is constantly thinking of something to spew out. Every night after the kids go to bed, I strap on the headphones and lose myself in music, my words, my head. It can be a chaotic place at times, but the writing helps to give it sense and order. I have recently discovered The Social Network soundtrack by Trent Reznor; I feel this album was made for writing. It pulsates and pushes me to the limits.

Some questions:
  • Of course I think my life is interesting, but why would anyone else care? After a session,I am often worrying why anyone would care about my life:
  • What aspects of a life, anyones, do you think are worth examining?
  • Do you prefer being in the narrator’s head, or by seeing the world that surrounds him/her?
  • Any other advice would be appreciated.


  1. I've written about a dozen books. None got done without routine. None occurred without ignoring or at least quieting that inner voice that asks:who might care about this when i am finished. Keep writing, rereading, and writing. Can't wait to read it.

  2. Do you prefer being in the narrator’s head, or by seeing the world that surrounds him/her?

    I have often tried to answer the question both as a reader and as a writer (not that I write often). I don't think I can decide. Perhaps I like to see the narrator's perceptions of the world from inside their head and also their interactions with others?

    Sorry not much help.

    Great post though.

  3. The piece I'm doing for #nanowrimo is very similar. (But it's still mostly in my head.) I've never been good with routine. I find that if I decide on a routine, I beat myself up if I don't stick with it. It sounds like you've found something that works well for you. Even if you take the concept of the novel out of the equation, it's a beautiful thing to dedicate that hour a day to yourself and to creativity. I wish I had that kind of discipline. I hope we all get to see the published result. I'm in no hurry, though. The older you get, the more you'll have to fill the book!

  4. Anonymous2:43 AM

    started nanowrimo today. going in a completely different direction but your example inspires me.

    the music is interesting. i think in the end there are no universals when it comes to writing: some people need silence, space, and time; others can write anywhere, with headphones on their head and metal in their ears. for me, reznor and writing would never work together. sigur rós, robert johnson, natalie merchant (credit to you) is what works.

    two pieces of advice (although again, i'm not sure if i have the right to them, but i hope they help): sometimes writing flows, like ink from a pen, and at such times we must let it. i've skipped nights of sleep to write and i don't regret it. at other times every word has to be dragged out, squeezed, like a crusted tube of toothpaste. at such times we must keep at it, because otherwise, we will never reach the veins of bounty. the other is to read strunk & white's the elements of style. helped me clean up my writing a bit. not to be followed religiously, but to be kept firmly in mind. poetic licence only works when we know the rules we're breaking, and why.