Early in my career, I met an author who told me he’d spent the day “working on dialogue”. I was beside myself with insecurity – and panicked that I should make Mondays my dialogue day, have Tuesdays for landscape and backdrop, Wednesdays for character description….until I thought hey! I like the way I write, because it works for me.
Perhaps the greatest encouragement I can give you is that there really is NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO WRITE! And that’s a fact. Most authors would agree. Check out my writer-chum Mike Gayle’s website – he has loads to say too and it’s really sensible and inspiring. On Twitter, uber-agent Jonny Geller often tweets really interesting and useful links – follow him @JonnyGeller. Initially, I assumed I was doing it all wrong, because I was quite happy to work a 9-5 day on my book, I was never awoken by the fabled muse at some ungodly hour and I didn’t require copious amounts of gin, fags and a drafty garret to write. However, some authors, mentioning no names, require all three and then some!
I don’t write to a plan – but I know authors who plan their books methodically. I start with Chapter One and I just beaver away until I hit The End – but I also know of authors who don’t write sequentially.
I don’t edit – I prefer to let the story tumble out and I then shape it and tweak it once it’s written, but I know writers who will edit and rewrite each chapter before they are happy to start the next one.
Ideally, I’d take 18 months to write a novel – 2 months or so for research, a year or so for the book itself, a couple more months to smarten it into the draft I then submit to my publisher. Usually I’m given a year – or less. I know an author who crams the entire writing of the book into the 3 months before the delivery date, working day and night!
Some authors stick to a word limit per day, however long that might take them. I’m a single parent to two children, so I have to fit my writing in to the hours inbetween the schoolrun. As long as I’m ‘in the zone’, I’m happy – whether that produces 600 words or 5,000.
You will find the way that works for you. Immerse yourself in that sacred ‘zone’ – your characters are depending on you to tell their tales for them, because no one else can!